May 9, 2017 / 10:03 AM / 3 months ago

German job vacancies hit record high in first quarter

BERLIN (Reuters) - Job vacancies in Germany hit an all-time high in the first three months of 2017, data showed on Tuesday, climbing above one million as Europe's biggest economy expands faster than its workforce.

Vacancies jumped by about 75,000 on the year and 9,000 on the quarter to 1.064 million, a survey by the IAB labor office research institute found.

"That's something of a surprise. Normally, the number of job vacancies goes down in the winter months," IAB researcher Alexander Kubis said.

Among the sectors consistently looking for more staff are logistics, healthcare and construction, he added.

"The German economy seems to be unfazed by external risks such as a possible rise of protectionism and any consequences of Brexit. That's why firms continue to hire, they are looking for new employees to an extent never seen before," Kubis said.

Gross domestic product data due on Friday is expected to show a rise in quarterly growth to 0.6 percent in the first quarter from 0.4 percent in the final three months of last year.

A survey by staffing firm ManpowerGroup found German firms - adapting to a long-signaled shortage of people of working age - were more worried about attracting and retaining talent than peers in the United States, France, Italy or Britain.

Incentives they offer include above-inflation pay hikes, subsidized meals and on-site nurseries, and flexible working conditions beyond the statutory minimum.

To counter the shortage, German companies have also designed training schemes for young people from other European states including Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Spain, where youth unemployment is high.

German unemployment fell more than expected in April, data showed last week.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber; editing by John Stonestreet

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