German jobless rate edges up in June, millions in furlough

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s unemployment rate ticked higher in June, official figures showed Wednesday, but the rise was slower than in the previous two months and extensive use of a government-backed short-time work program kept job losses down.

The unadjusted jobless rate, the headline rate in Germany, rose to 6.2% from 6.1% in May. It is up more than a percentage point since March, when it stood at 5.1%. The Federal Labor Agency said that 2.85 million people were registered as unemployed — 40,000 more than in May and 637,000 more than a year earlier.

In seasonally adjusted terms, unemployment was up to 6.4% from 6.3% in May. That rate stood at 5% in March.

Rises in unemployment in Germany and elsewhere in Europe have been moderate by international standards because employers are making heavy use of short-time work programs that allows them to keep employees on the payroll while they await better times.

In Germany, Europe’s largest economy, the labor agency pays at least 60% of the salary of employees who are on reduced or zero hours.

The agency said Wednesday that it paid out for 6.83 million people in April, the most recent month for which it has figures. That compares with 2.49 million in March, the month when the pandemic hit Germany, and just 133,000 in February. Germany has 83 million inhabitants.

Germany started easing coronavirus restrictions in late April and the process has gathered pace since, but many restrictions still remain.