The 2012/08/29 at 08:32
Never had German businesses hired to such an extent since the onset of the crisis. 610,000 jobs were created in 2011, bringing the number of working persons up to 23.67 million. What should be noted is that these figures relate to permanent jobs consisting of at least 21 hours per week, two-thirds of which are full-time positions.
According to the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit, BA), these figures, published during the summer, counter ideas generally held to be true. They indicate that the German employment market is not as rife with precariousness as unions tend to make out. What remains to be said is that over the same period, the number of precarious jobs (mini-jobs earning 400 euros per month, short-term jobs and temp positions) increased by 80,000. Today, almost eight million Germans, in other words 22 % of the working population, find themselves in precarious situations.
This tendency, hailed by businesses as offering flexibility to the job market, on the other hand worries observers. Precarious job situations are set to increase in number in coming months, going on basis of the first announcements of layoffs by certain groups such as Opel and Thyssen Krupp as a reaction to the onset of economic recession. This measure, to which German industry took recourse in 2009 in order to prevent massive retrenchment, may be extended to subcontractors such as the equipment supplier Schaeffler. The union IG Metall has resolved to agree to the possibility of recourse to layoffs over a 24-month period as opposed to the six months envisaged in the collective conventions – a derogation allowing unemployment indicators to be preserved as at the height of the crisis. For while the unemployment rate fell by 2.2 % in July this year compared with 2011, reaching a level of 6.8 %, it nevertheless has increased by 2.4 % since June. Meanwhile, underemployment has progressed by one point in the space of a month, reaching 9 % (not including layoffs). “The market tendencies of German employment remain positive as a whole but we can see signs of slowdown in its evolution,” noted, during the presentation of the statistics, Frank-J. Weise, Chairman of the Federal Employment Agency. A Federal Employment Agency that is however struggling to find candidates for the country’s 500,000 vacant positions (in other words 8,000 more than in 2011) in many sectors such as metallurgy, mechatronics, electronics, mechanical construction, logistics, trade and health.