Inflation is on the rise in Germany – at 3.9 percent in August, the highest level in 28 years – while wages are almost stagnant. Figures from the Federal Statistical Office show that more than 2.5 million people living here have less than €2,000 gross per month at their disposal. This is the case for around one in eight full-time employees, and in East Germany for almost one in five.
Cleaning, catering, tourism and the hotel industry are the sectors with the lowest wage levels
Overall, at the end of 2020, the wages of Germany’s 2.545 million full-time workers subject to social insurance were less than €2,000 per month. In West Germany, this affected 1.838 million workers, or ten percent, and in East Germany 707,000 people, or eighteen percent of full-time employees.
Wages in some sectors have been low for years. Examples are occupations related to cleaning, catering, hospitality or tourism. These are also the industries that have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Left, SPD and Greens in favour of raising the minimum wage
Sabine Zimmermann, the Left Party’s spokeswoman for labor market policy, was critical of the issue, particularly highlighting the problem of the still clearly existing wage gap between the east and west of the country. She added that the federal government must ensure that wages are adjusted. In particular, she said, there is a need to improve the business environment so that more people can have good jobs with decent wages.
Zimmermann called for raising the minimum wage to 13 euros, in line with the Left’s election program. The SPD and the Greens want to raise the minimum wage to 12 euros soon after the Bundestag elections. Zimmermann also advocated the abolition of temporary work, which, in her opinion, exacerbates the problem of low wages.