The number of people unemployed in Germany fell again in November as the job market benefited from the country's rebounding economy, according to figures released Tuesday by the Federal Labor Agency.
The Nuremberg agency said 2.931 million people were unemployed in November, down 14,000 from October — the first time the number of jobless had been under 3 million in two years.
The unadjusted jobless rate remained unchanged at 7 percent, while the rate adjusted for seasonal variations was also static at 7.5 percent.
Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle noted that the number of people employed also rose by 188,000 from September to October to more than 41 million.
"The job market is in the best shape since reunification," Bruederle said. "This is cause for celebration — but no reason for complacency ... the looming shortage of skilled workers must not become a brake on growth, therefore we must continue to invest in education and training."
The number of jobless in November 2010 was 284,000 lower than over the same month in 2009, when Germany was just beginning to emerge from the economic crisis.
After contracting in 2009, the government is now predicting full-year growth of 3.4 percent in 2010, cooling to 1.8 percent in 2011. In early November, the government's independent panel of economic advisers issued an even more optimistic forecast of 3.7 percent this year and 2.2 percent in 2011.
"There is plenty of empirical evidence that the German labor market — formerly known for its notorious sluggishness during upswings — is now transforming growth into new jobs," said Andreas Rees, an economist with UniCredit.
Last month was the first time since November 2008 — at the start of the economic crisis — that the number of unemployed fell below 3 million.
Still, Germany's unadjusted jobless rate never rose above 8.7 percent during the crisis. Even at its height, a government-subsidized short-time work plan allowed employers to reduce production without cutting employees — and that has now left companies well-placed to respond to increasing demand.
Labor-market and welfare reforms carried out in the last decade by former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder also have got some credit for the current situation. Under Schroeder, unemployment peaked at more than 5 million in 2005, and the jobless rate reached 12.6 percent.
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