Angela Merkel
Chancellor Angela Merkel risks upsetting German businesses with a planned introduction of a minimum wage (Reuters)

Germany's labour market is steaming ahead as the number of people in employment in the country has a hit a record high for the staggering seventh consecutive year in 2013.

Europe's biggest economy is leading the way across the crisis-hit continent with 41.78 million people now in work, according to official figures.

The Federal Statistical Office also revealed 232,000 jobs were created last year – representing a 0.6% hike – but the rise was roughly half the size of the average for 2012 and 2011.

In addition, the research body found the number of unemployed people in Germany decreased slightly by 36,000 to just under 2.3 million over the period.

The Federal Statistical Office also said the country's jobless rate dropped from 5.3% to 5.2% in 2013 which was a smaller decline in unemployment than in earlier years.

However, the unemployment rate in Germany is still lower than in almost all other EU Member States.

The robust labour market figures bode well for Germany's domestic demand, which officials in Berlin are relying on to support the country's economic growth – a move supported by EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn.

But Chancellor Angela Merkel risks upsetting German businesses with a planned introduction of a minimum wage – a policy that has come into fruition because of Merkel's "grand coalition" partners the Social Democrats.

Traditionally, German employers were able to agree on wages with the country's unions. A surge in non-unisoned jobs with poor pay has increased political pressure to implement a minimum rate of €8.50 per hour.

Unemployment data for December is due next week.