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German Jobless Decline May Slow in 2012, Labor Minister Says

German Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen comments on unemployment, the lack of skilled workers in Europe’s largest economy and the challenges for 2012.

She spoke in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

On the labor market:

“The German labor market is like a rock. We do see risks in the global economy, but German companies have a good order backlog. Our main concern is how to find qualified workers. Germany is in the middle of a demographic change. It could be an opportunity. We’ll have to reposition ourselves to use knowledge longer, but also in terms of prevention and health at companies. We’ll have to promote women’s careers and we need to reposition ourselves in terms of immigration of qualified staff.”

“The labor market is one of the big stabilizers in Germany. Ten years ago we were the sick man of Europe, now it’s the job miracle.”

“The outlook for 2012 is for unemployment to decline further if not at the same pace as last year. We still need to remain vigilant. We have one million job vacancies. Germany needs qualified workers. Companies need to change their behavior. There are well-qualified women out there.”

“The labor market is very robust but we need to remain vigilant. Short-term labor has significantly decreased.”

On the euro-area crisis:

“A single currency means a joint budget discipline. That has been accepted. In the medium to long-term, confidence in Europe will only be reestablished if we prove that we’re competitive. Every crisis can be a catharsis. We’re in the middle of solving the most pressing problems and we have the opportunity of setting the path for longer-term solutions.”

Asked whether there’s a risk of recession, she said “we have to remain vigilant.”

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