The unemployment rate shows the share of unemployed people among potential employees available for the job market. This figure is calculated as follows - number of unemployed persons: number of unemployed persons + number of employed persons = unemployment rate (in percent).
The status of being unemployed is defined as when an employed person is laid off, fired or quits his work and is still looking for a job. Even in a healthy economy unemployment occurs. If former employed persons go back to school or leave the job to take care of children they are not defined as unemployed. Unemployment can be a result of advanced technology, when machines replace worker tasks. Sometimes unemployment is caused by job outsourcing, when a company gets insolvent. Large-scale unemployment is also caused when consumer demands gets down and companies loose profit.
Unemployment benefit payments in Germany are only paid, if you are unemployed and worked for the last 12 months. Otherwise benefits are received in the form of Arbeitslosengeld II, also called Hartz IV, which distributes social payments to people without an income who cannot work to make a living.