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German unemployment hits new low in May

[FRANKFURT] Unemployment in Germany hit a new historic low in May, official data showed on Wednesday, in a sign that Europe's largest economy remains in rude health.

Just 5.7 per cent of the workforce were unemployed in May, adjusted for seasonal effects, the Federal Labour Agency said in a statement - the smallest proportion since German reunification in 1990.

That represented a decline of 0.1 percentage point from the figure for April and was in line with analysts' expectations.

"The labour market continues to develop favourably against a good economic background," the labour agency's chief Detlef Scheele said in a statement, noting that "demand for labour remains at a very high level".

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While the absolute number of people out of work fell by just 9,000 to 2.536 million, that was enough to bring down the unemployment rate from the 5.8 per cent it had stood at in March and April.

"There are few places for potential disappointments to hide in prospects for the labour market this year," commented Joerg Zeuner, chief economist of the KfW public investment bank.

The construction sector had lent a particularly powerful boost to employment, as low interest rates from the European Central Bank encourage people to invest in property, he noted.

AFP

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