This is where Germany's top-earners live

The Local Germany
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This is where Germany's top-earners live
Bavaria's finance minister Markus Söder. Photo: DPA

A new study shows in which states you might be living the high life - and in which ones you might be struggling on below average pay.


A newly published study on average salaries in each German state reveals a significant disparity between Germany's eastern and western Bundesländer (states).

The new Salary Atlas 2016 released by comparison website on Tuesday showed that the people of Hesse earn the highest salaries, equating to 110.7 percent of the German average yearly income.

The study also noted a 35 percent gap between the top- and bottom-earning states: The lowest-earning state was Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, at just 75.4 percent of the national average wage. analyzed 747,490 salary statements from the past twelve months across all sixteen of Germany's Bundesländer, and compared this with the average across the Federal Republic, which is expressed here as 100 percent.

The average worker in Hesse earns 10.7 percent more than the national average, and 35.3 percent more than their compatriots in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

“Hesse constitutes some very economically strong regions – especially in the Main region with Frankfurt at its centre,” Bierbach explained.

The study lists Baden-Württemberg (109.4 percent), Bavaria (106.1 percent), Hamburg (105.2 percent), and North Rhine-Westphalia (99.8 percent) as making up the rest of the top five.

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The comparison highlights that the states that once made up former communist East Germany still trail behind the western states, 26 years after German reunification and the end of the Cold War.

Excluding the capital city-state Berlin, which averages 94.18 percent, the five former communist states constitute the lowest earners in Germany.

“Berlin has a very strong appeal for workers from surrounding Bundesländer,” said the CEO of, Philip Bierbach in a statement. “[It] especially attracts university graduates who earn proportionately higher salaries.”

A study by the Ifo Institute for Economic research think-tank in August predicted that this East-West disparity will continue for years to come. Joachim Ragnitz from the Ifo wrote that only “Saxony and Brandenburg [out of the eastern states] will reach the level of overall average growth” by 2030.

The former GDR states have witnessed decades-long emigration of the young, leaving behind an ageing population and a significant loss of skilled workers.

In a comparison of German state capitals, it was found that Stuttgart and Munich dominated the table, respectively earning 125.2 and 123.8 percent of the national average.

Frankfurt is not included, as the state capital of Hesse is Wiesbaden, which came fourth in the rankings with 115.7 percent.

For those starting out their careers, Baden-Württemberg was the most attractive state, with young employees earning 108.6 percent of the national average for professional newcomers, followed by Hesse, Bavaria, Rhineland Palatinate, and Lower Saxony.

Hamburg and Berlin proved less profitable for rookie workers. Bierbach attributed this to the fact that the cities were already attractive to young people, and therefore employers do not need to “reach so far into their pockets” to recruit them.

By Alexander Johnstone


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