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Corona crisis: Greatest decline in German workforce since reunification

Corona crisis: Greatest decline in German workforce since reunification

Corona crisis: Greatest decline in German workforce since reunification

The coronavirus crisis has had a massive impact on the number of people in employment in Germany, new figures have shown. In the second quarter of 2020, around 44,7 million people were working in Germany - a fall of 1,4 percent compared to the previous quarter, and the sharpest quarter-on-quarter decline since reunification. 

Number of employees in Germany fell by 1,4 percent in Q2

Around 44,7 million people were employed in Germany in the second quarter of 2020, according to new figures released by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) on Tuesday. This means that the number of employees in Germany fell by a seasonally adjusted 618.000 (1,4 percent) compared to the first quarter of the year - making it the steepest decline in 30 years. 

Compared to the last quarter of 2019 - the quarter before the start of coronavirus restrictions in Germany - the number of people in employment also fell by a seasonally adjusted 1,4 percent (634.000), according to preliminary calculations.

Quarter two usually sees rise in employment

The decline from April to June is all the more pronounced as employment usually rises sharply in the second quarter of the year, due to the usual spring recovery. According to Destatis, this increase has averaged 0,9 percent (409.000 people) over the past five years, but this year coronavirus restrictions have meant that, instead of an increase, “an exceptionally large decrease was recorded.” 

The number of employees signed up to Germany’s short-time working scheme (Kurzarbeit), which increased sharply during the coronavirus crisis, did not affect the figures. Regardless of the extent to which their working hours have been reduced, Kurzarbeit employees were registered in the figures as employed, not unemployed. 

Massive drop in service sector employees

Overall, the service sectors were hardest hit by the decline, in terms of the absolute number of people in employment, registering a decrease of 369.000 jobs. This represents the first time that the number of people employed in the service sector has gone down since 2003. The largest absolute employment losses were recorded in the trade, transport and hospitality sectors with a decline of 2,7 percent, and corporate service providers (-2,5 percent). 

A good three quarters of the decline in employment is due to the decline in the number of employees - both those subject to social security contributions and those in marginal jobs. In the first quarter of 2020, the number of employees in Germany fell by 434.000 people (-1,1 percent), compared to the second quarter of 2019. The number of self-employed workers also fell by 140.000 people (-3,4 percent).

Abi

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Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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