German official unemployment shows surprise drop in January

FRANKFURT (AFP) - The German economy remains surprisingly resilient to the eurozone debt crisis, with unemployment in Europe's top economy falling again this month, official data showed on Thursday.

Unemployment rose sharply in January, with the jobless rate jumping to 7.4 per cent in raw or unadjusted terms from 6.7 per cent in December, according to monthly data compiled by the Federal Labour Office.

And the unadjusted jobless total was up by more than 298,000 to 3.138 million.

But the increase was solely due to seasonal factors, such as the cold winter weather and the underlying trend remained positive, agency chief Frank-Juergen Weise insisted.

"The unfavourable economic conditions haven't left much of a mark on the labour market. The latest rise in unemployment is purely due to seasonal factors," Weise said.

The seasonally-adjusted jobless rate - which irons out seasonal fluctuations - slipped to 6.8 per cent from 6.9 per cent.

And the jobless total fell by 16,000 to 2.916 million - its lowest level in four months - on a seasonally-adjusted basis, much better than analysts' forecasts for an increase of as many as 10,000.

"The labour market is in fundamentally good shape and is reacting robustly to the difficult economic environment," Weise said.

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