German Unemployment Declines as Shops and Restaurants Reopen

German joblessness slid for a second straight month in June, signaling a robust recovery as falling coronavirus infections allow shops, restaurants and cultural venues to reopen.

The decline of 38,000 was almost twice as high as expectations, and put the total number of unemployed at 2.69 million. The unemployment rate was 5.9%, matching the previous month, which was revised lower.

Germany has largely reopened in recent weeks as it ramps up its vaccination campaign to cut infections. Services business are now adding to overall momentum, after manufacturers held up relatively well during the most recent round of restrictions.

Companies are also making less use of the country’s furlough program, which helped millions of workers hang on to their jobs during the pandemic. The number of people in short-time work declined to 2.3 million in May from 2.5 million, according to the Ifo Institute.

“Unemployment and underemployment continued to fall sharply,” labor agency chief Detlef Scheele said in a statement. “Companies are further reducing short-time work and are again looking for new staff.”

Unemployment in the wider euro area is still higher than before the pandemic. Eurostat is due to release figures for the currency bloc on Thursday showing the jobless rate holding at 8%.

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