The number of people out of work in Germany rose slightly in May, ending a long stint of falling joblessness and suggesting that the labour market may be starting to feel the effects of slowing economic growth.

Figures from the Federal Employment Agency (BA) released Wednesday showed that some 7,000 more people were unemployed in May than in April. The total number of jobless people was 2.236 million.

The increase was too small to affect the unemployment rate, which remained unchanged at 4.9 per cent.

“Demand among businesses for new workers is clearly weakening,” Detlef Scheele, the head of BA, said.

Taken from a longer-term perspective, unemployment is still down compared to May 2018, when 80,000 more people were out of work.

The number of people who were underemployed, for example those currently on a training course, also rose by 42,000 in May in seasonally adjusted figures. This total was also down compared to the same month last year.

Germany narrowly swerved a technical recession – defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic output – at the end of last year, and the government has scaled back its 2019 growth forecast.

The gross domestic product of Europe’s biggest economy grew by 0.4 per cent in the first three months of 2019, but experts said it did not necessarily signal the end of Germany’s troubles.

Low unemployment, which is linked to higher consumer spending, is seen as an important factor in the country’s economic resilience.

Source: dpa