German unemployment falls to record low in November

Jobless total is lowest in 23 years

BERLIN (Reuters) — Germany's unemployment rate touched a record low of 6.6 per cent in November, underscoring the huge gap in labor market conditions between Europe's largest economy and its struggling euro zone partners.

The number of unemployed people decreased by a larger-than-expected 14,000 to 2.872 million, seasonally-adjusted data from the Federal Labor Office showed. The jobless total was the lowest in 23 years.

Record employment, rising wages and low interest rates are helping to prop up domestic demand in Germany, whose economy has suffered from uncertainty over the West's confrontation with Russia over Ukraine and weakness in some euro zone partners.

The robust labour market in Germany contrasts with the situation in many other EU countries.

According to Eurostat, which uses harmonized data that diverges from the national statistics, German unemployment stood at five per cent in September, less than half the level in France and the EU average of 10.1 per cent.

In Italy, the jobless rate stood at 12.6 per cent in September, while in Spain it was at 24 per cent, according to Eurostat.

"Germany's buoyant labour market continues to underpin wage growth and thus private consumption, in combination with very low inflation," said Christian Schultz, economist at Berenberg.

He said he expected household spending to remain a pillar of growth. A rough patch triggered by the Ukraine crisis was hitting Germany's economy exclusively through confidence and business investment, Schultz said.

"As business uncertainty fades in the absence of significant further bad news, Germany's fundamentally strong position should come through again and help boost investment," said Schultz.

Private consumption was the key driver of growth in the third quarter, when the German economy expanded by 0.1 per cent. The country only just avoided a recession after contracting by 0.1 per cent in the second quarter.

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