What’s up with the German labor market?

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News and interesting statistics about Europe’s strongest economy.

Munich - voted Germany's best city and no. 4 worldwide

Munich – voted Germany’s best city and no. 4 worldwide
Foto: Armand Csordas

As most of Southern and Eastern Europe as well as Great Britain struggle with a double-dip recession and the German economy continues to flourish, many in the beleaguered EU states are packing their bags for the Bundesrepublik.

According to Spiegel Online, half a million people immigrated to Germany in the first 9 months of 2012 alone; roughly 90,000 of those were Romanians (second only to the Poles). Most of these people came here looking for work, and most of them are highly qualified – just one of the ways Germany has capitalized on the financial crisis. They have filled vacancies and driven up rents. Many more are preparing to come so let’s have a look at what the German labor market has to offer.

Probably the most useful resources for foreigners looking for jobs in Germany are the labor market and salary reports published by leading employment agencies and career websites, such as StepStone or Manpower. Here is some interesting data in brief.

Top 5 best paid university degrees (average gross yearly salary in 2012, not taking into account number of years of work experience):

  1. Medicine – € 68,903 
  2. Law – € 60,792
  3. Engineering – € 59,912
  4. Business information systems – € 57, 764
  5. Natural sciences (biology, chemistry, pharmacy, physics) – € 57,292 (source: StepStone Gehaltreport 2012)

The top industries in terms of pay are, in order, consulting, banking, chemistry and oil industry, aviation, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, consumption goods, automotive and machinery, medical technology.

Expect below average pay checks in hospitality (€ 32,228 gross p.a.), agriculture, marketing and advertising (€ 39,040 gross p.a.), small trade, public services, education, retail.

Another interesting fact is the difference in pay between man and women. Women will earn, on average, 14,000 euros less per year than their male counterparts. University graduates earn on average 36% more than people with vocational training or trade school. By far the highest salaries are paid by companies with over 1000 employees.

There are also dire differences across regions. The southern states (Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg) are much better off than north-eastern states (former East Germany). Bavaria leads the pack with an average gross income of around 53,000 euros p.a., closely followed by Baden-Württemberg, Hessen and Hamburg. Apparently, the best-paying  jobs in the nation are to be found in these states. Red lanterns are Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt, Thüringen and Brandenburg, with 34,000-38,000 euros p.a.

(Note: These are all gross pretax salaries, without bonuses. For high-demand professions, and especially for positions with management responsibilities, add about 11% in bonuses. To arrive at the actual after-tax amount, subtract approximately 1/3 of the total; subtract more if you are single.)

A recent report by Manpower sees the situation on the German labour market as stable; the vast majority of companies (86%) declare they will not hire additional people in the second quarter of 2013, 8 percent want to hire more people, and 4 percent think they will have to lay people off. Manpower’s prediction is that most jobs in the next quarter will be created in the Finance and Insurance industry. StepStone continues to focus on the IT industry, on engineering and on finance and controlling, where the deficit of skilled labor remains a problem. Large deficits have been noted for geriatric care and health professions as well, especially as a result of poor demographics. The prognosis is gloomy – over 200,000 vacancies in German hospitals and hospices by the year 2020.

Another reason to worry comes from the weak demand for German industrial goods in Europe. Aktiv, a business magazine with a print run of over 1,000,000 copies available via subscription only, warns that not all is rosy in Germany. In its latest issue (16 March 2013) it claims rough waters may be ahead for the metal processing and electronics industry. BMW, for instance, anticipates a very difficult European climate for the next 5 years, with low sales and little recovery in sight.

How long the German miracle can last, and to what extent orders from the BRICS (particularly China) can compensate the sluggish markets in Europe, remains to be seen.

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