BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen would take over as labor minister, replacing Franz Josef Jung who quit earlier on Friday after criticism of his role when he was defense minister.

Von der Leyen, who was reappointed as family minister last month when Merkel won a second term, will take over the ministry at a crucial time. Keeping unemployment under control is one of Merkel's top priorities as Germany emerges from recession.

A trained doctor with seven children, von der Leyen is one of Germany's most popular politicians and has won credit for introducing measures to try to boost Germany's birth rate as family minister.

She belongs to Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), who share power with the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP).

With her experience as ... family minister, she has all the qualities needed to execute this important government job successfully, said Merkel.

Kristina Koehler, 32, replaces von der Leyen at the family ministry and becomes the cabinet's youngest minister. A CDU lawmaker from the western state of Hesse, she has until now specialized in integration matters.

Jung, who was also politically active in the state of Hesse, said he would step down as labor minister after he was pilloried for failing to come clean about a September 4 air strike in Afghanistan in which dozens of citizens were killed.

The strike was called in by German forces while he was defense minister.

Merkel said the new ministers would take up their posts on Monday.

(Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)