Salaries in Germany fell significantly in 2020

Salaries in Germany fell significantly in 2020

Salaries in Germany fell significantly in 2020

Coronavirus in Germany brought business to a virtual standstill last year, with companies forced to close their doors to comply with the country’s tough lockdown restrictions. Consequentially, many employees saw their salaries diminish significantly.

German employees felt the pinch last year

Wages in Germany fell last year for the first time since 2007, according to the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis). New figures show that gross monthly earnings, including additional payments, decreased by 0,7 percent in 2020 compared to the previous year. This equated to a real wage drop of 1,1 percent, taking into account the fact that consumer prices rose by 0,5 percent during the same period.

Coronavirus has largely been blamed for these developments, as businesses were forced to close across the country, meaning many employees found themselves working fewer hours and in different jobs. The statisticians at Destatis did not take short-time working (Kurzarbeit) into their calculations. "Although the short-time work allowance has cushioned the loss of earnings for many employees, it is a wage replacement benefit and not a component of earnings," Destatis explained in a statement. "Therefore, it is not recorded in the earnings statistics."

Paid working hours fell significantly in the hospitality industry

Full-time employees in Germany saw their paid working hours slashed by an average of 2,9 percent last year, compared to 2019. The hospitality industry saw the biggest decline, with a decrease of 19,4 percent compared to 2019. The arts, entertainment and recreation industry experienced a decrease of 9,0 percent, while, on the other hand, the energy industry and the finance and insurance industries only saw a drop of 0,4 percent.

The biggest decline in earnings, as measured by the nominal wage index, was experienced by semi-skilled workers (2,5 percent), followed by unskilled workers (1,6 percent), skilled workers (1,2 percent) and “outstanding skilled workers” (0,2 percent). Those in managerial roles seem to have been pretty fortunate throughout the pandemic, as their earnings actually increased by 0,2 percent.

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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