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Ten facts about the job market in Germany

How many people are in gainful employment and where do they work? Here are some key facts, and a surprising number relating to the “industrious Germans”.

Helen Sibum, 02.08.2018
Around 5.5 million people in Germany work in the skilled crafts sector.
Around 5.5 million people in Germany work in the skilled crafts sector. © dpa

Germany is world-renowned as a country of industry. But how many people actually still work in manufacturing? And what are the key challenges facing Germany when it comes to jobs? has put together ten key facts about the job market – and also questions one particular cliché.

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  1. Around 44.3 million people in Germany had a job in 2017 –  somewhat more than half of the country’s total population. The number of people in gainful employment has risen constantly in the past twelve years, partly thanks to migrants who have come to Germany to work.
  2. As compared with other EU countries, many women work in Germany: 18.4 million of them in 2017. This equated to a good 75 percent of women aged between 20 and 64. Within the EU, only Sweden and Lithuania have a higher quota of working women. That said, most women in Germany are employed on a part-time basis.
  3. Nearly three quarters of the working population in Germany are employed in the services sector, which has continued to grow in recent years. By contrast, ever fewer people work in the manufacturing sector – namely around 24 percent of the working population in 2017. Jobs in agriculture account for only somewhat over one percent.
  4. The skilled crafts play an important role in the services sector, though mostly in small firms. In 2017, roughly 5.5 million people worked in the one million or so skilled crafts enterprises in Germany – more than twelve percent of the working population.
  5. More and more older people in Germany have a job: around 15 percent of those aged 65 to 69 were working in 2016. Ten years earlier, only seven percent of senior citizens continued to work after reaching normal retirement age.
  6. Unemployment is on the decline in Germany. In 2017, the unemployment rate was 5.7 percent, meaning that fewer people were out of work than at any time since reunification in 1990.
  7. Germany has the lowest rate of youth unemployment in the EU. Seven percent of those aged 15 to 24 were out of work in 2016. The EU average was just shy of 19 percent.
  8. Almost one in five jobs in Germany is under threat from digitisation. This is what the OECD has calculated – it found that 18 percent of jobs in Germany entail a “high automation risk”.
  9. One much-discussed issue in Germany is the looming skills shortage. A study conducted by Prognos economic researchers concluded that around three million jobs could be unfilled by 2030. Among other things, there is a lack of doctors and nursing staff.
  10. Germans are generally considered to be extremely industrious – yet they work comparatively little: 1,356 hours on average in 2017. In no other OECD country are so few hours worked. The figure can be explained by the relatively large number of holiday days and public holidays in Germany, and by the fact that many women work part-time.

Jobs in demand in Germany