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, which account for two-thirds of all jobs and more than half of Germany’s economic output. In 2013, Germany came third behind China and the United States in terms of foreign trade. According to the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Deutsche Industrie- und Handelskammertag, DIHK), Germany should have pushed the USA into third place amongst the world’s top exporting nations by as early as 2014. The bulk of its exports go to European countries.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, the real GDP of the Federal Republic of Germany increased by only 0.4 % in 2013, to EUR 2.7 billion. Thus in 2013, growth in the German economy was weaker than in the previous year, when the increase in economic output was 0.7 %. However, according to the latest figures, the German economy grew again by 0.7 % in the first quarter of 2014. For the first half of 2014, there was even an increase of 0.8 % compared to the second half of 2013, after adjustments for price, seasonal and calendar effects. Private and state spending made a particularly positive contribution, whereas foreign trade did not provide any impetus towards growth compared to the previous year. The effects of uncertainty concerning foreign trade became increasingly apparent, especially with regard to the conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine.

The labour market continues to demonstrate a solid level of demand. From August 2014 to September 2014, unemployment sank by 94 000 or 3 % to 2 808 000. This brought the unemployment rate down to 6.5 %.  In the last three years, unemployment in September has decreased on average by 121 000 or 4 %. Compared to the previous year, 41 000 or 1 % fewer people were registered as unemployed in September. Germany still has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe.
Underemployment (excluding short-time working) showed a year-on-year decrease of 102 000, and in September 2014 amounted to 8.4 %.
The number of people in gainful employment and employment subject to social security deductions continued to rise in 2014. The level is significantly higher than that of the previous year. According to the Federal Employment Agency, the number of people in paid work was 42.8 million in September 2014, which represents a year-on-year increase of 0.8 %.

According to extrapolated figures from the Federal Employment Agency, in July 2014 employment in jobs subject to social security deductions rose year-on-year by 528 000 to 30.1 million, representing an increase of 1.8 %. The number of people in full-time work rose by 1.2 % and the number of people in part-time work rose by 4.0 %. Employment in jobs subject to social security deductions rose in all of Germany's federal states; the increase was strongest in Berlin and weakest in Saxony-Anhalt. In sectoral terms too, there is growth almost everywhere – particularly in the real estate / scientific and technical services sector, the metal, electrical and steel industries, and health care and social work. Falls in employment occurred mainly in the financial and insurance services sector, and in the mining, energy and water supply, and waste management sector.

Text last edited on: 03/2015

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