Working in Germany: the official website
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Employment & earnings

Low unemployment rates in Germany

In 2019, the unemployment rate stood at 3.1 per cent in Germany. Germany therefore has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world. While elsewhere in Europe youth unemployment has risen significantly in the past few years, in Germany the dual education system has paid off. In 2019, only 5.8 per cent of 15 to 24 year-olds were registered unemployed.

Gross is not the same as net

In Germany when you sign a work contract for employment subject to social security contributions, your contract states your gross salary. But gross is not the same as net. It means that you will receive less than what is stated in your work contract.

As an example, in 2019 the average gross salary across all salary levels ranged between EUR 4,802 and EUR 3,975 per month. In the case of employees in jobs subject to social security contributions, employers automatically deduct income tax, the “solidarity surcharge” (Solidaritätszuschlag) and the statutory social security contributions. The advantage is that your social security contributions mean that you are financially insured if you lose your job, fall ill, or are in need of care, and in old age. The employers even take over some costs. The amounts deducted may vary depending on your income, federal state, tax bracket, health insurance fund and family status. In 2019, an unmarried person in tax bracket I in the western German states received an average net salary of around 2,438 euros up to 2,868 euros.

Short working hours, plentiful vacation and public holidays

In an international comparison of economies, German occupies first places in many disciplines. You might think that Germans have achieved their ranking thanks to their proverbial hard work, long working hours, scant vacation and fewer public holidays than other countries. Yet the statistics prove the contrary. As for working hours, with 1,651 collectively agreed hours per full-time employee, Germany posted the third-lowest value in the EU-28 zone. Only France and Denmark had shorter annual collectively agreed working hours. Vacation and public holidays also vary widely within the EU: in Germany in 2014, employees had 41 days of vacation and public holidays, whereas the EU-average was 35.7.

This is the cost of living in Germany

Albert Einstein once said: “The best things in life are not those which you get for money.” That may well be true. In 2018 however, the Germans spent an average 2,704 euros per household every month on all other expenses. Most of their money they spent on accommodation, energy and housing maintenance (908 euros). This was followed by food, drink and tobacco (360 euros). But recreation and culture were not neglected: every month, Germans spend 304 euros on such activities as sports and cinema outings.

Information on the web

Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community

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