The job market in Germany got off to a stable start in the new year. According to the head of the Federal Employment Agency (BA), Andrea Nahles, the fact that the number of unemployed increased in January is mainly due to the time of year: due to the weather, fewer people can work in some sectors in winter, and fewer people are recruited between the years discontinued, said Nahles on Tuesday in Nuremberg.
In the first month of the year, 2.616 million people were without a job, 162,000 more than in December and 154,000 more than in January 2022. The unemployment rate increased by 0.3 percentage points to 5.7 percent from December 2022 to January 2023. Data up to January 12 were considered.
Short-time work is being registered more frequently again
Despite the stable figures: "The effects of the geopolitical and economic uncertainties are still noticeable," Nahles continued. For example, when it comes to the demand for workers: this is still high, explained Nahles, but has stagnated in recent months. A certain amount of caution among companies should be noted. There were 764,000 jobs registered with the Federal Agency, 27,000 fewer than a year ago.
Short-time work was also used more frequently again. The BA's most recent data in this area is from November 2022; 208,000 employees received economic short-time work benefits for this month. That is a significantly higher value than in the summer months, but still less than in the previous year, said Nahles. In 2021, the corona pandemic had an even clearer impact. In principle, short-time work is still above the values from the years before Corona.
"Overall, the job market is stable in an economically difficult environment," said Nermin Fazlic, department head in the Federal Ministry of Labor, who is currently deputizing for State Secretary Lilian Tschan. Underemployment has increased. Even after seasonal adjustment, there is still a slight increase, "the refugees from Ukraine in particular are reflected here in the integration courses". When it comes to underemployment, not only unemployed people are recorded, but also participants in a job promotion measure or employees who have been ill for a short period of time.
Less interest in apprenticeships
At the start of the year, BA boss Nahles also drew attention to the training market. In January, 25,000 young people were still looking for an apprenticeship. At the same time, the BA was notified of 13,000 vacant training positions at companies. It shows that the number of applicants continues to decline, said Nahles. This picture will also solidify in the forthcoming new training year: the number of training places will increase slightly, the number of applicants will decline slightly. "It's not due to demographics," emphasized Nahles. The number of students is stable.
However, it has not been possible to successfully introduce young people to dual training - i.e. learning a trade in a company and at a vocational school. The BA is therefore planning to provide parents with better information, for example. Because: "The most important career advisors" for young people are still the parents, said the BA boss. She also promoted internships, which would then also lead to more entries into training: "The internship must be given a higher priority."
Young people with initial difficulties could also be supported in such a way that they could start an apprenticeship, Nahles assured. "We have a toolbox of ways to help."