Germany's Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said Thursday the nation's economy shrank by 5% during 2020, less than predicted, and less than elsewhere in Europe, but still the worst contraction since the 2009 financial crisis.
At a Berlin news conference, Altmaier said the fact the economic contraction was less than the 5.5% predicted earlier in the year is "a small comfort," but it does show the government was able to mitigate the damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Germany's federal statistics agency, Destasis, reports the pandemic-driven downturn ended 10 straight years of growth and affected almost all sectors of the economy. The agency says only the construction industry saw a modest increase of 1.4%.
The agency says the pandemic's first wave, which prompted a nationwide lockdown, resulted in the worst quarterly drop in gross domestic product (GDP) on record, a plunge of 9.8% in the three months from April to June.
But the economy recovered, thanks to a stimulus package and a partial re-opening of the economy, expanding by 8.5% in the third quarter, before slowing down again following a resurgence of the coronavirus.
Altmaier said the recent COVID-19 surges in Germany as well as the rest of Europe caused him to revise downward somewhat his economic growth forecast for 2021, but he still remains optimistic, predicting it will grow by 4.4%. He said he believes the nation will manage the pandemic in a way that will not stifle economic growth.