Immigration helps push German employment to record high

Germany or the trash. Neukölln, December 2015. [Joel Schalit/Flickr]

Favourable economic conditions and an influx of foreign workers boosted employment in Germany to its highest since reunification in 1990, according to data published on Monday (4 January) as the jobless rate hovers at a historic low.

Around 43 million people living in Europe’s largest economy were in work last year, up 0.8 percent on 2014 and a 12th consecutive annual increase, the Federal Statistics Office data showed.

It said an inflow of workers from eastern European states including Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia as well as from countries hit hard by the euro zone crisis such as Greece, Portugal and Spain had boosted employment.

>>Read: Moscovici: 3 million migrants won’t harm EU economy

Meanwhile, more people already living in Germany had found jobs thanks to the robust economy.

Germany’s unemployment rate has repeatedly reached monthly post-reunification lows in 2015 and fell in November to 6.3 percent from 6.4 percent the previous month, according to Federal Labour Office data. December’s data is due on Tuesday.

Croatian citizens have been able to work in Germany without restriction since the start of July, and Romanians and Bulgarians to take jobs in all European Union countries without a work permit since the beginning of 2014.

Germany saw a record influx of migrants last year, with 1.09 million entering the country according to one newspaper.

Many are not yet in work, meaning the correlation between that number and the growth in employment was very limited, if linked at all, the office said.

>>Read: Analysts: Refugees ‘may end up boosting European economies’

“If we manage to quickly train those that come to us and to get them into work, then we will solve one of our biggest problems for the economic future of our country: the skills shortage,” Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel told Reuters, in September.

“But there are also risks,” he added, pointing to the danger that refugees may not integrate properly into German daily life if they do not receive language training.

Around 77 percent of asylum-seekers and war refugees are of working age, the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) said in a report last month.

German trains-to-turbines group Siemens (SIEGn.DE) said it was keen to admit refugees to its apprenticeship program, and that it had taken on about 10 of them as interns at its campus in Erlangen, Bavaria in 2015.

A rise in the working-age population thanks to immigration will help lift German economic growth by 1.7 percent by 2020, according to calculations by Unicredit economist Andreas Rees.

“This corresponds to an increase of around 50 billion euros compared to a scenario without extra immigration,” he said.

Subscribe to our newsletters