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Germany

Is Germany Cooking The Books On Its (Low) Unemployment Rate?

At a time when much of the developed world is still mired in a major slowdown, Germany’s 6.2% jobless rate is enviable. But by not counting half the unemployed over the age of 58, Germany might not be giving a true picture of its economic health.

Is Germany Cooking The Books On Its (Low) Unemployment Rate?

Worldcrunch *NEWSBITES


BERLIN
– When it comes to the job market, Germans can count their blessings. Unemployment has dropped from more than 5 million to less than 3 million over the past six years. That contrasts starkly with the more than 9% unemployment rates currently squeezing workers in the United States and in many of Germany's European neighbors.

But a closer look shows that the 6.2% jobless rate in Germany does not accurately reflect the employment picture – notably as it refers to the country's 58- to 65-year-olds. The number of registered jobless people in that age group rose -- and the statistics only show half the truth.

According to Federal Employment Agency (BA) figures, in August 2011 there were 291,380 jobless people in the 58-65 age group. Add to that 211,222 "working job seekers' that don't appear in the official unemployment figures because they are temporarily occupied in subsidized jobs programs or in job center training. Were they to be counted, the total number of unemployed would be well over the 3 million mark recently announced by the Nuremberg-based agency.

The BA admits that not all older job seekers are included in the statistics. The agency points out, however, that in 2011, 43% of them are included, a considerable improvement over 2010 (39%) and 2007 (14%).

The reason for the gap in the statistics appears to be procedural. Until 2007, when an unemployed beneficiary turned 58, he could still receive benefits without having to continue looking for a job – and were thus no longer counted as unemployed in the statistics. They also had to agree to retire as soon as they could.

This practice changed in 2007 since it didn't mesh with the government's plan to raise the retirement age to 67. However, the change also meant that statistics would have shown a sudden surge in unemployment. To avoid this, it was agreed to remove all those 58 years and older from the statistics if they hadn't found a job within a year.

The good news is that the number of older workers in the work place has risen markedly in recent years. In 2010, there were 7.2 million workers over 50, which was 2 million more than 10 years earlier. These are usually workers who grow older in the same job. The percentage of older workers rose from 17.9 to 26.2.

Still, the older unemployed in Germany – as elsewhere – remain an often intractable problem. Employers fear that older people are less flexible and productive, while the older unemployed who had previously enjoyed high salaries are often reluctant to take the pay cuts that are almost inevitable.

"It often takes time for these people to agree to make concessions," says one expert, "but wait too long and you have another problem – employers are suspicious of people who have been unemployed for a long time, and are unlikely to hire them."

Read the full original article in German by M. Hollstein and S. v. Borstel

Photo - giopuo

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Economy

In Uganda, Having A "Rolex" Is About Not Going Hungry

Experts fear the higher food prices resulting from the conflict in Ukraine could jeopardize the health of many Ugandans. Take a look at this ritzy-named simple dish.

Zziwa Fred, a street vendor who runs two fast-food businesses in central Uganda, rolls a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex.

Nakisanze Segawa

WAKISO — Godfrey Kizito takes a break from his busy shoe repair shop every day so he can enjoy his favorite snack, a vegetable and egg omelet rolled in a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex. But for the past few weeks, this daily ritual has given him neither the satisfaction nor the sustenance he is used to consuming. Kizito says this much-needed staple has shrunk in size.

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Most streets and markets in Uganda have at least one vendor firing up a hot plate ready to cook the Rolex, short for rolled eggs — which usually comes with tomatoes, cabbage and onion and is priced anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 Ugandan shillings (28 to 57 cents). Street vendor Farouk Kiyaga says many of his customers share Kizito’s disappointment over the dwindling size of Uganda’s most popular street food, but Kiyaga is struggling with the rising cost of wheat and cooking oil.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has halted exports out of the two countries, which account for about 26% of wheat exports globally and about 80% of the world’s exports of sunflower oil, pushing prices to an all-time high, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency. Not only oil and wheat are affected. Prices of the most consumed foods worldwide, such as meat, grains and dairy products, hit their highest levels ever in March, making a nutritious meal even harder to buy for those who already struggle to feed themselves and their families. The U.N. organization warns the conflict could lead to as many as 13.1 million more people going hungry between 2022 and 2026.

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