Companies are reporting significantly more short-time work again

The partial lockdown in November left clear marks on the labor market – albeit not in the form of layoffs. Unemployment is even falling.

A restaurant in Hanover: The gastronomy had to close again in November.

Dowing to the partial lockdown in November, companies in Germany again registered short-time work for significantly more employees – despite the restrictions, however, unemployment continued to fall. This was announced by the Federal Employment Agency (BA) on Tuesday in Nuremberg. At the same time, the companies were more reluctant to look for staff. “The labor market reacted to the restrictions in November – fortunately not with an increase in layoffs at the moment,” said BA boss Detlef Scheele.

In November, the companies reported short-time work to the employment agencies for 537,000 employees. That is the highest value since May. For comparison: in October they had only registered short-time work for 148,000 employees. However, the actual utilization is still significantly higher. For example, in September – more recent data are not yet available – according to preliminary projections, the BA paid short-time working benefits for 2.2 million employees. The previous high was reached in April with almost 6 million short-time workers – an unprecedented level.

20 billion euros for short-time work

This also applies to the cost of short-time work benefits, which have now passed the 20 billion euro mark, as reported by the Reuters news agency. More than half of this was accounted for by payments to employees who had to accept reduced wages due to the compulsory break. Around 8.7 billion euros were paid to employers as reimbursement for social contributions. In the past year, spending on short-time working allowances was only 131 million euros by the end of November.

Despite the partial lockdown, the number of unemployed developed positively in November. It even fell more sharply than in previous years: by 61,000 to 2.699 million. Even seasonally adjusted, i.e. taking the usual seasonal fluctuations out of the equation, it fell by 39,000. At the same time, however, the number of unemployed is still 519,000 higher than a year ago.

Employment reacted to the Corona crisis even more than unemployment. It fell significantly in the spring, but has recently stabilized at a lower level. In October, according to the Federal Statistical Office, it rose slightly, seasonally adjusted, by 20,000 to 44.93 million. That was at the same time 645,000 fewer people in employment than a year ago.

A similar development can be seen in the demand for new workers, which also fell sharply at the beginning of the Corona crisis, but had recovered noticeably in recent months. In November, the increase due to the corona restrictions flattened again because the companies reported fewer new jobs. A total of 601,000 vacancies are currently reported to the BA.