BERLIN (AP) -- Germany's economy shows no signs of picking up anytime soon and unemployment will likely jump as growth slows, the Finance Ministry said Friday.
The ministry confirmed in its monthly report that the economy had shrunk by 2.1 percent in the last quarter of 2008 -- its third consecutive drop -- and it projected a further contraction for the first quarter of 2009.
"The current growth indicators clearly show a further deterioration of the situation as compared to the fourth quarter of 2008," the ministry said.
The unadjusted jobless rate climbed to 8.5 percent in February from 8.3 percent in January. The number of people out of work rose by 63,000 in February to 3.552 million, according to the Federal Labor Agency.
"The coming months will see an increase in unemployment rates, as well as a drop in the number of people working," the ministry said.
In late February, the Federal Statistical Office reported that economic output during the October through December period contracted 2.1 percent compared with the previous quarter, hurt by a 7.3 percent slump in exports, which had long been the mainstay of the Germany's growth.