German jobless rate drops to lowest since reunification

The European Union's Eurostat agency said unemployment in the 19-country single currency bloc fell to 10.7 percent in October from 10.8 percent in September (AFP Photo/Christof Stache)

Berlin (AFP) - German unemployment fell in January to the lowest level since the country reunited in 1990, official data showed Thursday.

The number of people registered as unemployed in Germany fell by a seasonally-adjusted 9,000 to 2.8 million in January, the Federal Labour Office said.

Analysts polled by Bloomberg News had forecast a still bigger monthly drop of around 12,000.

The unemployment rate -- which measures the jobless total against the working population as a whole -- slipped to 6.5 percent from 6.6 percent for December, the office said.

The jobless rate has never been lower since Germany reunited in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall the previous year.

In raw or unadjusted terms, the jobless total actually grew, as is common in winter, to just over three million people in January, to stand at seven percent.

Christian Schulz, of Berenberg Bank, said the fourth consecutive monthly drop demonstrated the resilience of Germany's jobs market.

"The economic slowdown last summer, which Russia had triggered with its aggression against Ukraine in the spring, has not had any significant impact on German jobs growth.

"Nor has the introduction of the new national minimum wage on January 1, 2015," he added.

Johannes Gareis, economist at Natixis, said the "tightness" of the German labour market was good news for the economy.

"It backs household confidence and supports wage growth and thus private consumption," he said.

Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Thursday he expected a "new record" in the number of people in employment this year.

A robust job market encourages consumer confidence which, data released on Wednesday showed, was at its highest since late 2001.