Germany's jobless rate fell unexpectedly in September to 6.6% from 7% in August as demand for workers remained high, particularly in retail, construction, hospitality, health care

FRANKFURT, Germany , September 29, 2011 () – Germany's jobless rate unexpectedly fell to 6.6 percent in September from 7.0 percent the month before as the country's export-oriented economy continues to demand workers despite slowing growth and risks from Europe's debt crisis.

Germany's state labor agency said Thursday that the number of jobless people fell during the month by 149,000, to 2.796 million. The drop in jobless numbers was much larger analysts had expected.

The office said that "demand for workers remains at a high level."

There was particularly strong demand in retail, construction-related trades, hospitality and health care, as well as for temporary workers, the labor agency said.

Germany's economy showed weak growth of only 0.1 percent in the second quarter, although expectations are for better numbers in the third quarter, which ends Sept. 30. Most economists see Germany's recovery from the recession slowing into next year as global growth weakens.

The upbeat numbers clash with declining consumer and business confidence. Jobs numbers however are often trailing indicators, as hiring decisions lag behind what is actually happening in the economy. Meanwhile, leading indicators such as Germany's Ifo and ZEW surveys of business executives and investors are flashing warning signals about the months ahead. Some economists say there's a chance the eurozone could slip into recession.

The debt crisis hangs over eurozone growth prospects, since a government debt default could mean losses for banks and cut off credit to the wider economy.

Weakening growth expectations have led some economist to think that the European Central Bank will cut interest rates in the next several months to stimulate the slackening economy in the 17 countries that use the euro.

Jens Weidmann, the head of the country's central bank, the Bundesbank, said this week that "we expect economic activity to remain robust in the third quarter, and even though expectations for the winter months are subject to considerable risks, this should prove to be more of a soft patch."

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