Short overview of the labour market


North Rhine-Westphalia borders Lower Saxony to the north and north-east, Hesse to the south-east, Rhineland-Palatinate to the south and Belgium and the Netherlands to the west. With almost 18 million inhabitants, it is the most populous of all the federal states, and the fourth-largest in terms of surface area. Of Germany’s 80 largest cities, 29 are located in North Rhine-Westphalia. The Rhine-Ruhr conurbation in the heart of the state, with around ten million inhabitants, is one of the 30 largest metropolitan areas in the world. The state capital is Düsseldorf.

In December 2017, the unemployment rate in North Rhine-Westphalia was 7.0%, the national rate being 5.3%. North Rhine-Westphalia therefore has the fifth-highest unemployment rate when compared with other regions of Germany.

In June 2017, a total of 6 698 306 people were employed in jobs subject to social security deductions. This represented a year-on-year increase of 2.3% in the number of people employed in jobs subject to social security deductions.

The main sources of employment in North Rhine-Westphalia included:

In percentage terms, the largest increase in employment between June 2016 and June 2017 was recorded in the following sectors:

Between June 2016 and June 2017 there was a fall in the number of jobs in the financial and insurance services sector (-1.4%).


Sources used

Where are the available jobs?


With its unemployment rate of 7.3% (national average: 5.5%), jobseekers may encounter more difficulties in some areas.

Jobseekers looking for work in North Rhine-Westphalia will find the lowest unemployment rates in the following rural districts and/or towns in December 2017:

Most vacancies in December 2017 were in the following rural districts and/or towns and cities:

In December 2017, the average number of unemployed applicants for each notified job vacancy in North Rhine-Westphalia was 4.2, compared with a national average of 3.2.

In the following occupational categories there were more vacancies than qualified unemployed persons:

  • Plastics and rubber manufacturing and processing
  • Paint technology
  • Paper and packaging technology
  • Metal production
  • Metalworking
  • Metal finishing
  • Metal construction and welding
  • Precision engineering and tool engineering
  • Mechanical and industrial engineering
  • Automotive and aerospace engineering and shipbuilding
  • Mechatronics and automation
  • Energy engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Building planning and supervision, architecture
  • Surveying and cartography
  • Civil engineering
  • Flooring installation
  • Plumbing, sanitation, heating and air-conditioning activities
  • Utility supply and waste disposal
  • Information technology
  • Monitoring and maintenance of transport infrastructure
  • Service staff in passenger transport
  • Train driving
  • Police, criminal investigation services, judicial and law enforcement services
  • Sale of foodstuffs
  • Tax consultancy
  • Healthcare and nursing, emergency medical services and midwifery
  • Non-medical treatment and alternative medicine
  • Care for the elderly
  • Medical, orthopaedic and rehabilitation technology


Where are the available workers?


With an unemployment rate of 7.0% in December 2017, North Rhine-Westphalia generally still offers employers good prospects of recruiting suitably qualified staff to fill their vacancies. Employers in North Rhine-Westphalia will find the highest unemployment rates and a good supply of labour in the following rural districts and/or towns and cities:

The following are the main occupational categories in which there is currently a surfeit of qualified unemployed persons:

  • Building technology
  • Specialist trade in books, art, antiques and music
  • Company management and board of directors
  • Linguistics and literature
  • Public relations
  • Arts and crafts, and visual arts
  • Ceramic/glass arts and crafts
  • Facilitating and entertainment
  • Theatre, film and television production
  • Stage design and costume making, prop mastery

In addition, there is a large supply of labour for many semi-skilled occupations in horticulture; care of animals; mining and opencast mining and blasting; food preparation; building construction; flooring installation; painting and plastering work, preservation of structures; site security, personal security, fire protection, occupational safety; cleaning; sales; event services, event management; the food service industry; office and secretarial work; body care; education, social work, special needs care; household management and consumer advice.

With its high concentration of institutions of higher education, North Rhine-Westphalia also has a good supply of graduate jobseekers in almost every academic profession.