The graph above shows German unemployment rates since 1997. The peak experienced in 2005 -- which left 5.2 million Germans out of work — was the highest rate of joblessness since 1933 (the previous postwar record was in the late 1990s).
The sharp rise in unemployment was attributed to sluggish economic growth but also to a change in the way joblessness was measured, meaning that welfare recipients were counted as unemployed for the first time.
Since 2005 the unemployment rate has fallen with occasional reversals.
The German labour force is 43.5 million people strong, two thirds (67.8 per cent) of whom work in the services industry.