Working in Germany: the official website
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Employment & earnings

Low unemployment rates in Germany

In 2016, the unemployment rate stood at 4.1 percent in Germany. Germany therefore has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world. The same year, the average rate for the 28 EU states was twice as high. While elsewhere in Europe, youth unemployment has risen significantly in the past few years, in Germany the dual education system has paid off. In 2016, only 7.1 percent of 15 to 24 year-olds were registered unemployed. The average for the EU-28 zone was 18.7 percent. 

But adults are also benefiting from Germany's sound economic and labour situation. The unemployment rates for 25 to 54 year-olds and 55 to 64 year-olds were also very low, at 3.9 and 3.9 percent respectively in 2016.

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. 

For example: in 2016, the average gross salary for all salary categories together for men was just under 4,483 euros a month. Women, who tend to work more part-time and in service professions where pay low, earned an average 3,613 euros a 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 2016, an unmarried woman or unmarried man in tax bracket I in the western German states received an average net salary of 2,225 euros or 2,652 euros respectively.

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 Belgians had to be content with 29.

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. For everything else, Germans spent an average 2,480 euros per household every month in 2016. This amount varied considerably depending on the household’s income. For example, for monthly net income of between 2,600 and 3,600 euros, spending averaged 2,417 euros. Taking all income brackets together, Germans spent the most money on accommodation, energy and housing maintenance (877 euros). This was followed by food, drink and tobacco (342 euros).  But recreation and culture were not neglected: every month, Germans spend 258 euros on such activities as sports and cinema outings.

Information on the internet

Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs

Employment of foreigners in Germany (German)

Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community

Brochure Welcome to Germany- Information for Immigrants (German, English, French, Spanish and others)


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