Harsh winter weather at the start of the year briefly stopped the German jobs boom causing the jobless rate to rise for the second consecutive month. The labor market, however, remains robust.
Unemployment in German rose slightly to 7.4 percent, meaning a total of 3.11 million people were out of work in February, official data published by the German Labor Agency showed on Wednesday.
Compared with the previous month, 26,000 more people were without a job- but 203,000 fewer than in February 2011.
Allowing for seasonal adjustments, the Labor Agency said, unemployment came in at 2.87 million which was almost the same as in January.
"Unemployment hardly changed at all, despite the unusually cold weather since mid-January," Frank Weise, the head of the Federal Labor Agency, told a news conference in Nuremberg.
He added that there was "nothing to be seen of an economic weakening on the labor market" in spite of a 0.2 percent contraction recorded for Europe's biggest economy in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Continued high demand
The February figures show that the German labor market remains robust after two years of growth, and unlike labor markets in other EU countries hit hard by the eurozone debt crisis.
Weise said that "demand for labor remains high", and that despite the employment rate having soared to a 21-year high in January with 41.09 million people out of an overall population of 82 million working.
Analysts, however, have mixed feelings about future labor market development in Germany.
Carsten Brzeski at ING Belgium told the AFP news agency that he saw the data as a signal "that the German job miracle is gradually coming to an end."
"With lower growth and an employment rate close to the natural rate, the strong dynamics of the last year will not be repeated this year," he said.
Annaliza Piazza of Newedge Strategy told the same news agency that the figures were a "sign of normalization as the business cycle is far from its peak, even in the super-resilient Germany."
But Christian Schulz, senior economist at Berenberg Bank, believes that with record low unemployment levels "finding suitable candidates will continue to be an issue for German companies and be a drag on overall growth."
uh/ng (AFP, dpa)