The surprisingly solid job market data is supporting expectations for a consumer-driven recovery over the summer months as households are ready to splash out after months of limited possibilities to spend due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The Labour Office said the number of people out of work fell by 15,000 in seasonally adjusted terms to 2.739 million. A Reuters poll had forecast a fall of 9,000.
The seasonally adjusted jobless rate remained unchanged at 6% for the fifth consecutive month.
“There are first signs of a comprehensive improvement on the labour market in May. The impact of the coronavirus crisis is still visible very clearly, but it is becoming a bit smaller,” Labour Office head Detlef Scheele said.
In a further positive sign, the number of employees put on reduced working hours in job protection schemes, also known as Kurzarbeit, fell sharply in May, preliminary figures showed. (Reporting by Michael Nienaber Editing by Riham Alkousaa)