Germany Fusses Over Solving Jobless Crisis
BONN — German unemployment has hit yet another postwar record high of 10.8 percent. And rather than signaling a solution, the country's political leaders have been sniping at each other in recent days.
Chancellor Helmut Kohl maintains that his goal for a halving of joblessness by 2000 can be met. But both his conservative-center coalition government and the opposition Social Democrats are coming under widespread criticism for "cluelessness" as to how to bring the jobless rate down. When the "unofficially" unemployed - discouraged job-seekers - are included, the rate may hit 15 percent this year.
German companies are creating new jobs - but outside Germany. By one recent study, they will add 300,000 new jobs abroad in the next three years - most in Eastern Europe. Even a baker in west Berlin sends vegetables by truck to be chopped in Poland for the next day's pizzas.
Politicians talk as if firms can create jobs at will, but business leaders say high labor costs tied to government-run pension, welfare, and health-care systems stand in the way.