German unemployment increased less than expected in March ahead of strict containment measures taken by the government to curb the spread of coronavirus, data published by the Federal Employment Agency showed on Tuesday.
The number of people out of work rose by 1,000 in March, after falling by 8,000 in February. However, economists were forecasting an increase of 29,000.
The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5 percent in March. The rate was forecast to rise to 5.1 percent.
The agency cautioned that the report does not reflect the real impact of the coronavirus outbreak as data was collected before March 12.
Today’s labor market data look to be the last calm before the storm, Carsten Brzeski, an economist at ING said. The German labor market had already lost further traction before entering the Covid-19 lockdown, he observed.
The economist said during the financial crisis, short-time work schemes were one of German government’s most important tools to stabilize the economy. It simply is too early to tell whether short-time work schemes will have the same magical effect this time.
Data published by Destatis, earlier in the day, showed that the jobless rate remained unchanged at an adjusted 3.2 percent in February.
According to results of the labor force survey, nearly 1.50 million people were unemployed in February. This was an increase of 128,000 compared with the same month a year earlier.
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