Charity finds most Germans ever in poverty
Poverty levels in Germany have reached an all-time high, with 15.5 percent of the population – or 12.5 million people - affected. Single parents and unemployed people were the hardest hit, according to a report from a welfare association.
Over 40 percent of single parents and almost 60 percent of the unemployed are poor, according to the Paritätische Gesamtverband, an umbrella organisation for associations focusing on social services.
Older people and retirees, around 15 percent of whom are considered poor, are the fastest growing demographic group in terms of poverty, according to the report released on Thursday.
One of the report authors, Christian Woltering, told The Local he felt deficient social policy was one of the main drivers of rising poverty numbers.
“The social net, including (unemployment and social benefits package) Hartz IV has proved insufficient,” said Woltering. “In addition, we have a low-wage sector producing a class of working poor, who do work, but struggle to get by on what they earn.”
The Paritätische Gesamtverband uses the European Union's definition of poverty, which covers those who live on less than 60% of the median income. A single-person household with less than 892 euros per month is considered poor in Germany, with that threshold rising to 1,872 euros for a family with two children.
But apart from the growing number of poor people, the report's authors also warned of the growing income disparity among federal states turning Germany into a “fissured republic”.
Berlin, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Bremen, who all have poverty quotas of over 20%, are the three federal states with the most poor people, while Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Hesse have the least.
Despite recent victories for social welfare advocates, such as the introduction of minimum wage, Woltering said he is not particularly optimistic Germany is moving to turn the tide.
'I have not seen much to suggest that increasing poverty is being addressed,“ he said.“I expect this trend to continue."
He also said introducing the minimum wage has done little to stem growing poverty.
“We are not disparaging the minimum wage, we think it's good that work is seen as inherently valuable,” he said. “However, most minimum wage earners work temporary or part-time jobs, or have families for whom the wage earned is still not enough.”
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