Industrial production in Germany fell by 9.2 percent month-on-month in March, official data showed Thursday, as Europe's top economy began to feel the effects of the coronavirus crisis.
"Because of the coronavirus pandemic," the monthly barometer of manufacturing output -- a key measure of economic health -- suffered "its worst fall since the beginning of the data series in 1991," statistics authority Destatis said in a statement.
The vital car industry with its 800,000 employees was among the most heavily impacted, suffering a 31.1 percent drop in production.
Data released Wednesday by government and industry sources showed car production collapsed by a further 97 percent in April as factories lay idle.
Auto bosses are pressuring the government to repeat a so-called "cash for clunkers" trade-in scheme last seen following the 2009 financial crisis.
But environmentalists, economists and some politicians warn such a programme could prove financially wasteful and slow Germany's transition to cleaner power sources for its cars.
Elsewhere, Destatis highlighted falls of more than 12 percent in March for production of print media and more than 11 percent in pharmaceuticals and clothing.
Energy output was 6.4 percent lower than in February.
But construction provided a bright spot, adding almost two percent.
"The stream of evil tidings continues" in the industrial output data, commented economist Jens-Oliver Niklasch of LBBW bank.
Nevertheless, the "huge lockdowns" seen in March are "already behind us," he noted, with car firms in particular returning to production in recent weeks.
"The task now is to revive the economic cycle as swiftly and comprehensively as possible," Niklasch concluded.
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