More working Germans need social support

More working Germans need social support
Photo: DPA
More Germans need state help to supplement their wages - because their jobs pay so badly they cannot pull themselves above the poverty line, figures from the Federal Employment Agency (BA) showed on Wednesday.

This could fuel an ongoing debate over introducing a minimum wage.

Lots of people in Germany have part-time “mini-jobs” for which they earn just enough to have to pay social contributions – around €800 per month – and according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, many of these people claim basic welfare support, Hartz IV, as they cannot live off their wage.

There were also, the paper said, people with full time jobs that were so badly paid that they had to supplement their income with Hartz IV.

The amount of people with both a job and welfare support has been increasing consistently over the past four years. In 2012, there were 323,000 households in which people had jobs but still got state money – that was a 20,000 increase on 2009.

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The situation among single people is even worse, with those living alone having to depend on social support to supplement their income rising by 38 percent over the past four years to reach around 75,600.

Generally people affected were, the newspaper said, those working in hospitality, retail and healthcare, as well as labourers. In total, last year there were 1.3 million people on Hartz IV who also had a job.

For centre-left party the Social Democrats (SPD), the figures provide ammunition for their argument in favour of a minimum wage.

Labour market policy spokeswoman for the party Anette Kramme, told the paper that the increase in people who were working full time jobs and yet still needing state support showed “an improper usage of employment contracts.”

Alongside workers’ unions, the SPD wants a nationwide minimum wage of €8.50 per hour. The government argues that such a figure should be different in various regions and jobs.

The BA thinks that the figures should not be seen as negative, though. A spokeswoman told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that being in paid employment was better than just living off the state.

She added that for many, having a part time job was often the gateway to better-paid employment.

The BA then contradicted the Süddeutsche Zeitung‘s report and said that if figures between 2009 and 2012 were compared then number had gone up. But, from 2007 to 2012 there has been a significant decline in people working and claiming Hartz IV.

The Local/DPA/jcw

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