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Business

Record 40 Million Germans With Jobs in 2008

A record 40.3 million people were employed in Germany last year, according to figures released by the Federal Office of Statistics. Elsewhere, however, there was further grim news for the German manufacturing sector.

A German construction worker

A record number of Germans held jobs last year -- that may not be the case this year

The record numbers of employment last year was the highest number since German unification in 1990, figures showed.

The number of employed people increased 1.5 per cent from 2007 to 582,000, partly due to the economic boom that lasted well into the first half of the year, according to the statistics office.

The economic downturn in the second half of 2008 did not have a major effect on employment, it said.

Germany's jobless rate hit a 16-year-low in November when 7.5 per cent of the workforce, or 3.15 million people, were without jobs.

The Federal Labor Agency is due to release unemployment figures for December next week.

Grim news on manufacturing front

Despite the good employment figures, there was further gloomy news for Germany's economy which has been hit particularly hard by the global slowdown.

According to the euro zone's purchasing managers' index, compiled by data and research group Markit, manufacturing activity in the countries sharing the euro fell to a record low in December.

The Purchasing Managers' Index is a measure of an economy's manufacturing activity. A score over 50 points indicates growth, while a score below 50 reflects contracting industrial output. December saw the euro zone's score fall below 34 point points -- the lowest level in the survey's 11-year history.

On a national level, Germany was one of the hardest hit. Its score shrank to 32.7 in December -- down three points from November.

Chris Williamson, the chief economist at Markit, said Germany's disappointing score represents a 12 percent drop in industrial output.

Speaking to DW-RADIO, Williamson said Germany's huge reliance on exports to drive its economy was proving to be a major disadvantage in the current global downturn.

"Germany, amongst the biggest euro zone economies, has seen the steepest contraction of its export order books," Williamson said. " This is indicative of sharply declining production in its export markets such as China, the US and the UK, where companies are cutting back on their investment in their own factories, so they're ordering less plant and machinery, machine tools and so forth which is of course one of the key drivers of Germany's expansion.”

Williamson added it would only a matter of time before German manufacturers start slashing jobs.

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