Short-time work lowers wages in Germany

Photo: dpa / Robert Michael

Wiesbaden. Short-time working in many companies due to the corona pandemic resulted in a decline in real wages for the economy as a whole in the first quarter. In nominal terms, wages from January to March were 0.7 percent lower than in the first quarter of 2020, as the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden announced on Monday. Since consumer prices rose by 1.3 percent in the three months, this results in a price-adjusted earnings decline of 2.0 percent.

The overall economic wage development in the first quarter of 2021, unlike in the same quarter of the previous year, was influenced by the increased use of short-time working due to the corona pandemic, explained the statisticians. Short-time work reduces the weekly working hours and thus the gross monthly earnings. Although the short-time work allowance cushioned the loss of earnings for many employees, it is a wage replacement benefit and not a component of earnings. Therefore it is not recorded in the earnings statistics.

According to statistics, the paid weekly working hours of full-time employees fell by an average of 3.0 percent compared to the same quarter of the previous year. The weekly working hours fell far above average in the areas of accommodation (minus 38.6 percent), aviation (minus 35.8 percent), gaming, betting and lottery services (minus 31.9 percent) as well as travel agencies and tour operators ( minus 30.8 percent).

The decline in earnings was greatest among semi-skilled and unskilled workers, as the statisticians went on to explain. In contrast, prominent skilled workers and employees in management positions were even able to show increases in earnings.

Real wages had already fallen in the second quarter of 2020 due to the first lockdown, by 4.7 percent. In the third quarter of 2020 this decrease decreased to minus 1.3 percent. In the fourth quarter of 2020, real wages grew slightly by 0.4 percent. AFP / nd

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