The number of employed people in Germany hit a new record in 2011, said official statistics published on Monday, with more than half a million jobs created last year in Europe's top economy.
There were an average of 41.04 million people working in Germany last year, the national statistics office Destatis said in a statement, a rise of 535,000 people, or 1.3 percent, on the previous 12 months.
It was the first time the number of people working in Germany has risen above the 41-million mark, Destatis said. The population of the country is nearly 82 million.
The gains were spread across the economy, with the service sector registering a 1.2-percent rise in people employed and the construction segment up 1.7 percent.
The statistics also showed that the German economy is increasingly dependent on services rather than manufacturing. In 2011, 73.8 percent of workers were in the service sector, compared to 60.9 percent two decades ago.
Germany has so far been resilient to the eurozone crisis surging around it, with low unemployment and relatively solid growth, despite expectations that it cannot remain immune to the chaos forever.
Both Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble have warned that this year will be tougher for Germany than 2011, but they also insisted that the economy was in good shape for the challenges ahead.Eurozone manufacturing decline persists, PMI survey says
Activity in the eurozone manufacturing sector fell for the fifth successive month in December, but showed a slight improvement on the previous month, a closely-watched survey suggests.
The Markit eurozone manufacturing PMI was 46.9, up from November's 28-month low of 46.4. Any score under 50 represents a contraction.
Markit said production levels and new orders fell in all 17 member nations.
Employment rose in Germany and France, but fell across the bloc as a whole.
Markit said manufacturing growth in the final three months of last year was the weakest since the middle of 2009.
"Eurozone manufacturing is clearly undergoing another recession," said Markit's chief economist Chris Williamson.
"Despite the rate of decline easing slightly in December, production appears to have been collapsing across the single currency area at a quarterly rate of approximately 1.5% in the final quarter of 2011."
No country in the eurozone saw an increase in manufacturing activity in December.
Austria recorded the highest score of 49, followed by France on 48.9 and Germany on 48.4.
The survey also found that input prices across the eurozone fell for the third straight month.
Many economists believe the eurozone economy as a whole is heading for recession, after growing by just 0.2% between July and September - the latest figures available.
"Eurozone manufacturers are now very much on the back foot and finding life extremely challenging as domestic demand is hit by tighter fiscal policy across the region, squeezed consumer purchasing power, and heightened eurozone sovereign debt tensions leading to tightening credit conditions and financial market turmoil," said Howard Archer, of IHS Global Insight.
The economic think tank believes the latest PMI data provides "significant support" to the case for the ECB to cut interest rates again in the next few months.
A poll conducted among leading economists by the BBC last week found that, of the 27 who responded, 25 forecast a return to recession for Europe next year.#