February 24, 2012 · 0 Comments
By Dean Baker:
Germany, like many other countries, restricts the ability of businesses to operate on Sunday and holidays. One of the main reasons for such restrictions is to ensure that workers will have the opportunity to spend time on these days with their families.
The New York Times is very unhappy about such policies. It devoted a major news article to criticizing this sort of “overregulation” in the German economy.
While it is arguable that Germany would be better off without restrictive hours for business operation and some of the other regulations cited in the article, these regulations do serve a purpose. Remarkably the article did not include the views of a single person defending these regulations. This is especially strange, since obviously the regulations all have a substantial base of support within Germany, otherwise they would not still exist.
This article also misled readers about Germany unemployment rate, reporting it as 7.3 percent. This is the unemployment rate using a German government measure that counts part-time workers as being unemployed.
The OECD publishes a harmonized unemployment rate that is calculated along the same lines as the unemployment rate in the United States. According to the OECD measure, the unemployment rate in Germany is 5.5 percent.
There is no excuse not to use the OECD measure when reporting on Germany’s unemployment rate. Using the German government measure without an explanation of the difference in methodology is grossly misleading and should never be done.