Labour market information

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Germany - National Level

Short overview of the labour market

With 81 million inhabitants, Germany has the fourth-largest national economy and industrial base in the world. Well over 90 % of all German companies are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which account for two-thirds of all jobs and more than half of Germany’s economic output. In 2015, Germany was the world's third largest trading nation, behind the United States and China.

Overall, the labour market has continued to develop positively in Germany. Unemployment increased in February compared with August 2016, but fell compared with the same month the previous year. Demand for labour, in terms of employment and notified vacancies, remains high.

Number of unemployed persons in February 2017: 2,762,095

Unemployment rate in February 2017: 6.3 %

Year-on-year change:  -0.3 %

As at December 2016, according to figures from the Federal Employment Agency, employment in jobs subject to social security deductions had increased in West and East Germany compared with the same month in the previous year:

Number of people in jobs subject to social security deductions:  31.88 million

Year-on-year change:  +735 000 / +2.4 %

In December 2016, 23.14 million, or 73 %, of the total of 31.88 million people in jobs subject to social security deductions worked full-time, while 8.74 million, or 27 %, worked part-time. The number of jobs subject to social security deductions is growing across all federal states, with the strongest growth rate (+4.4 %) being again recorded in Berlin.

In the year-on-year comparison between sectors, the predominant picture was of growth across the board. The clearest increases in employment in December 2016 were in the sectors:

  • Residential care and social work activities (+4.6 %)
  • Temporary employment agency activities (+4.6 %)

A small contraction in employment was seen in the following sectors:

  • Provision of financial and insurance services -1.0 %
  • Agriculture, forestry and fisheries -0.4 %.

The biggest companies in Germany in 2016 include, as in previous years, the vehicle manufacturers Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG, and the energy company Eon.

Text last edited on: 08/2017


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