The employment office is a federal agency and is officially called the Bundesagentur für Arbeit, with its headquarters in Nuremberg. It is primarily responsible for job placement, job assistance and the administration of unemployment insurance.
Placement officers work in the local agencies and job centers and give advice and assistance to people looking for work. Their responsibilities include monitoring the job market, giving careers advice at career information centers and facilitating professional development.
The Bundesagentur für Arbeit is also responsible for paying Arbeitslosengeld (unemployment benefit). This is paid out of the German unemployment fund, into which all employees and employers pay. An unemployed person receives unemployment benefits for one year if they have paid into the fund for at least 12 of the previous 24 months. They also have to register soon after becoming unemployed, and apply regularly for new jobs. The unemployment benefit is between 60 and 67 percent of prior net income.
Unemployment benefits should not be confused with Arbeitslosengeld II, also called Hartz IV. Arbeitslosengeld II is a social welfare benefit which you receive irrespective of previous employment, to cover basic living costs. You also have to meet certain conditions to qualify for Hartz IV.