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German unemployment falls unexpectedly in December

German unemployment fell unexpectedly in December, despite the retail lockdown imposed that month, but more people were placed on a state-backed short-time work scheme designed to protect jobs, data showed on Tuesday.

The labour office said the number of people out of work in Europe’s largest economy fell by 37,000 in seasonally adjusted terms to 2.776 million. A Reuters poll had forecast a rise of 10,000.

The unemployment rate remained unchanged compared to the previous month at 6.1%, the lowest level since April.

The number of people on short-time work schemes, which have shielded the labour market from the brunt of the pandemic, rose by 666,000 in the first four weeks of December, the labour office said, as partial and full lockdowns, which included closing non-essential shops, forced more companies to cut working hours for their employees.

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