German unemployment rate holds steady at 5 percent

BERLIN — Germany's unemployment rate held steady at 5 percent in February as the labor market in Europe's largest economy remained strong.

The Federal Labor Agency said Friday that the number of unemployed dropped 21,000 in January after accounting for seasonal factors. Despite that fall, the rate was unchanged for the fourth straight month.

In unadjusted terms, the rate remained at 5.3 percent for the second month in a row. Overall, 2.37 million people were registered as jobless, down 33,000 from January.

ING economist Carsten Brzeski says the numbers show "the German labor market remains an impressive growth engine for the entire economy."

He says "it is a perfect illustration of the current divide of the German economy between a strong domestic and stuttering external part."

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