January 2, 2018 / 2:36 PM / a year ago

German workforce grew in 2017 by most in 10 years - data

FILE PHOTO - Workers are silhouetted on amongst scaffold at Potsdamer Platz square in Berlin, Germany, October 27, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s workforce expanded last year by the most in 10 years, data showed on Tuesday, underlining the strength of a labour market that has helped consumption overtake exports as the main driver of growth in Europe’s largest economy.

The workforce grew by 638,000 last year, an increase of 1.5 percent, to hit a record high of 44.3 million, the Federal Statistics Office said. It was the largest yearly increase in 10 years.

The office attributed the rise to more foreigners finding work in Germany, where a growing number of economic sectors are suffering from labour shortages. An increasing number of women and senior citizens are also finding work, the data showed.

Last year was the eighth year of growth in Germany, whose economy is gaining momentum from consumption, state spending and exports.

The Statistics Office will publish later this month preliminary growth figures for 2017, which the government expects to be 2 percent, unadjusted for calendar effects.

The Bundesbank is forecasting an adjusted expansion rate of 2.6 percent for 2017 and 2.5 percent for this year.

The Ifo economic institute expects Germany’s job miracle to continue, with employment levels hitting fresh record highs of 44.8 million this year and 45.2 million next.

Reporting by Rene Wagner; Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Gareth Jones

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