German jobless rate falls in September, fewer on furlough

That jobless rate stood at 5% in March, the last month before the impact of the pandemic was reflected in unemployment figures.

In seasonally adjusted terms, unemployment dipped to 6.3% in September from 6.4% in August.

In Germany, Europe’s largest economy, the labor agency pays at least 60% of the salary of employees who are on reduced or zero hours.

The labor agency said Wednesday it paid out for 4.24 million people in July, the most recent month for which it has figures. That was down from 4.63 million in June and a peak of 5.95 million in April, but far above the pre-crisis level in February of just 134,000. Germany has 83 million inhabitants.

The Ifo economic think-tank said this week that, according to its calculations, the number of people in the program was down to 3.7 million in September, though the number remains relatively high in manufacturing industry.

Germany won’t be scaling back the program soon. The governing coalition has agreed to allow employees to remain in it for up to 24 months rather than the regular 12.

Germany started easing coronavirus restrictions in late April, but some remain. A recent increase in new infections has caused concern, prompting plans for restrictions on private gatherings in places where cases spike. The government is keen to keep businesses and schools open.

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