Thursday, May 7, 2009

European Policies Soften Blow of Economic Hard Times

With its tidy villages, orderly cities and atmospheric scenery, there are few outward signs that the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, home to historic Heidelberg and the famed Black Forest, is a victim of the current economic crisis.

But with the auto industry here hit especially hard — this is the home of Mercedes-Benz — things are tougher than they have been in decades. Unemployment is up 70 percent in the past year (albeit to a relatively low 5 percent total) and many employees have been forced to cut down their hours.

Misery below the surface, perhaps? Not at the bustling Fuerstenberger home just outside Heidelberg, where little has changed for the family's four children despite neither parent currently working.


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