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December 2, 2009

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Jobless rate decreases

THE number of unemployed in Germany unexpectedly fell in November while retail sales grew, official data showed yesterday, suggesting recovery in Europe's largest economy is on track.

The Federal Labor Office said the German unemployment rate narrowed by 0.1 percentage points from October to 7.6 percent. A total of 3.22 million people were out of work in November, down from 3.23 million in October.

Economists had expected the November level of unemployed to increase.

"After about a year of the economic crisis, the employment market is comparatively robust," said Frank-Juergen Weise, the Labor Office director, adding that the effects of unemployment on the economy was far less dramatic than many had expected.

Compared to November 2008, the level of unemployed rose by 227,000 for the month.

The Labor Office said about 100,000 workers at around 5,000 companies were put on shorter hours in November. The office estimated the total number of workers taking part in short time work programs stood at about 1 million in November, largely unchanged from the previous month.

Such programs have been partly subsidized by Chancellor Angela Merkel's government in an effort to keep jobs.

"It is no secret anymore, earlier reforms and, above all, subsidized short-term work have made the labor market more crisis-resistant than during earlier recessions," said Carsten Brzeski, an ING economist.


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