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Slowdown hits labour market as German unemployment rises

The skyline with the banking district is seen during sunset in Frankfurt

By Rachel More

BERLIN (Reuters) -The number of people out of work in Germany increased more than expected in February as a slowdown in Europe's largest economy took its toll on the labour market, Federal Labour Office figures showed on Thursday.

The office said the number of unemployed grew by 11,000 in seasonally adjusted terms to 2.713 million. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected that figure to rise by 7,000.

The seasonally adjusted jobless rate remained stable at 5.9%.

"The weak economic environment is dampening the overall robust labour market," Labour Office head Andrea Nahles said.

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"Unemployment figures often fall in February," she added. "That is not the case this year."

Labour Minister Hubertus Heil said employers were hanging on to their existing staff in the face of skilled labour shortages.

"The risk of being made redundant remains low," Heil said in a statement, adding that demand for new hires had declined.

There were 706,000 job openings registered with the labour office in February, 72,000 fewer than a year ago.

In its latest economic projections, the government warned that momentum in Germany's labour market had waned and would remain low in first few months of 2024.

It also slashed its economic growth forecast for this year to 0.2% from 1.3% previously.

(Additional reporting by Holger HansenEditing by Miranda Murray, Madeline Chambers and Alex Richardson)