Wednesday, August 4, 2010

In Germany, a Broad Recovery Is Under Way

Norbert Reithofer, the chief executive of BMW, often boasted that he was among the first to start trimming jobs in 2007 when he saw a downturn coming in the automobile industry.

On Tuesday, BMW hung out the help-wanted sign after reporting that its net profit rose more than sixfold in the second quarter.

German exports are booming again and so is employment. The country’s unemployment rate is 7.6 percent, almost at the precrisis level, and down from 9.1 percent in January. Companies, including the electronics and engineering giant Siemens, the truck maker MAN or the carmaker Daimler, are ramping up worker hours. BMW said it was seeking 1,000 people in Germany to work in research and development as well as purchasing and sales.

As a country adding workers, Germany’s image stands in stark contrast to five years ago when unemployment was above 13 percent, more than five million people were jobless and the country was a symbol of labor-market inflexibility.

Germany’s unexpectedly strong economy is generally considered good news for the rest of Europe, which depends on German demand for its goods. So is the drop in joblessness, which should help increase consumer confidence and encourage Germans to take vacations in Spain and Greece, channeling euros to two places that need them.

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