The number of unemployed in Germany rose in December by 60,000 amid the global economic downturn, pushing the jobless rate up to 7.8 percent, official figures released on Tuesday showed.
The Federal Labor Office said the German unemployment rate grew by 0.2 percentage points from November.
A total of 3.27 million people were without jobs in Germany at the end of last year, compared with 3.22 million people in November.
For the full-year of 2009, an average of 3.423 million Germans were out of work, an increase of 155,000 as compared with 2008.
The current jobless rate is close to the sensitive 8 percent level but less than expected.
"Despite the deep recession, the job market remained robust in 2009," Labor Office director Frank-Juergen Weise said.
"Although the number of jobless rose compared to the previous year, it was not as much as feared."
The German economy, Europe's biggest, emerged from recession in the second quarter of 2009 and is on course to keep growing, but the government has warned that unemployment is expected to keep rising in the coming months.
Initial estimates by the office show that some 130,000 to 140,000 people were working on government-funded short-term contracts as part of a program aimed at keeping Germans in jobs.
Economists praised the program for stabilizing the German labor market.
"Companies are being encouraged to hang onto the bulk of their work force," wrote Timo Klein in a research note from IHS Global Insight, adding that the program allows further increases in demand to be responded to quite rapidly.
According to official government figures from late December, Germany spent almost 5 billion euros ($7.18 billion) on the program.
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