Unemployment falls for the second straight month

Jobless figures drop for the second straight month, but some question whether the news is as positive as it seems

Figures from Statistics Denmark show that the number of unemployed workers in Denmark fell by 1,100 from November to December, leaving 160,500 people still out of work, or about 6.1 percent of the available work force. The unemployment numbers also dropped between October and November.

Nykredit economist Tore Stramer called the numbers “a positive surprise”, but says he is not sure that the downward trend will continue.

“With moderate economic growth expected both this year and next, we will still be below the level of growth normally associated with rising employment,” said Stramer.

He expects that sluggish growth will cause companies to thin their workforces and that unemployment will rise by between 10,000 and 15,000 through 2012.

Some economists suggest that the falling numbers may have more to do with people giving up their job searches than with the unemployed getting work. 

“There are fewer people active on the labour market than last year,” said Steen Bocian, of Danske Bank. “Some people might have opted to stay in school or retire early, either of which would remove them from the labour force.”

A reduction in the number of available workers can make the employment situation sound better when it hasn’t appreciably improved.

After hitting record lows of around 3 percent prior to the recession, the national unemployment rate has been between 6.0 and 6.4 percent since February 2010.

The positive unemployment news has not made its way to Siemens Helsingør facility, however.

Helsingør Dagblad reports that after several years in red, the company is closing down its turbo machinery division in Helsingør and moving production to Germany, leaving 120 employees potentially out of work.

Siemens’ existing facility in Frankenthal, Germany will take over production of the water treatment plants that had been being built at Helsingør.

The relocation is expected to be finished by the end of 2012. There is no word on how long the staff of engineers and scientists will have a job, or whether they will be offered positions elsewhere in Germany or Denmark.