This is where Germany’s top-earners live

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.

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

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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Why Berlin, Fürth and Darmstadt are among Germany’s ‘best performing’ cities

Which major city in Germany is the most dynamic and which has the best prospects for the future? A study takes a closer look and finds some surprising results.

Why Berlin, Fürth and Darmstadt are among Germany's 'best performing' cities
Darmstadt in Hesse is the city that's best equipped for the future according to the study. Photo: DPA

Darmstadt is the German city that’s best prepared for the future, Berlin is the most dynamic and Munich is currently in the best position.  But Wolfsburg and Ingolstadt are feeling the effects of the German car industry crisis.

That’s the results from this year's city ranking by the Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft (German Economic Institute, IW) in cooperation with the magazine Wirtschaftswoche and the internet portal Immobilienscout24. 

The study compares the development of 71 German cities that are home to more than 100,000 people.

Researchers found the middle Franconian metropolitan region of Nuremberg, Erlangen and Fürth is developing well, while Leipzig and Jena in eastern Germany are also performing positively.

READ ALSO: Three German cities ranked in the top 10 best places to live

Berlin is most dynamic city in Germany

The capital is most dynamic city of Germany, according to a study. Photo: DPA

Three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the capital took first place in terms of dynamism. 

According to the study, Berlin has upped its pace significantly, particularly when it comes to the labour and real estate markets. Between 2012 and 2017, around 250,000 more people moved to Berlin than left.

Munich ranked second in the list of 'dynamic' cities, followed by Fürth, also in Bavaria.

Yet Ingolstadt and Wolfsburg – still among the top 10 last year – crashed to 39th and 49th place respectively when it came to the dynamic ranking.

Munich best performing city

The two car cities also lost ground in the 'current situation' ranking – albeit not so dramatically. Ingolstadt ranked fourth (previous year: second) and Wolfsburg seventh (in the previous year it was fifth). One major reason for this was that the tax revenue of the two municipalities has deteriorated significantly compared with 2012, the year of the boom in the automotive industry.

READ ALSO: Why these three German cities offer the 'best work-life-balance'

Munich is the German city that's performing best right now, taking the top spot in the overall ranking for the seventh year in a row. The unique combination of high-performance science and a competitive economy “works like turbo for the greater Munich area,” explained Hanno Kempermann of IW Consult. 

The study says Munich is the best performing city in Germany right now. Photo: DPA

The Bavarian capital is followed by Erlangen and Stuttgart. Among the top 10 are the banking metropolis of Frankfurt as well as Hamburg, Regensburg, Würzburg and Ulm. At the bottom end of the table are Bremerhaven (69th place) and the Ruhr cities of Herne (70th place) and Gelsenkirchen (71st place).

For years, major cities in the Ruhr region have been at the bottom of the city rankings. Nevertheless, Kempermann said there were opportunities for the region. Among the plus points are comparatively inexpensive housing, cultural openness, dense population, universities and research institutes, as well as airports.

Darmstadt set for the future

According to the analysis, Darmstadt is the German city that's best equipped for the future.

“The city in southern Hesse is home to a large number of successful and highly innovative companies,” argues Kempermann. These include, among others, the pharmaceutical and chemical group Merck.

Munich, Erlangen, Stuttgart and Jena follow in second place.

According to the study, a new economic powerhouse is emerging in central Franconia around the cities of Erlangen, Nuremberg and Fürth.

The region has experienced some difficulties with big firms, such as Grundig or Quelle leaving, but its commitment to future technologies has helped it cope with change.

How researchers analyzed the data

For the annual city ranking, the company IW Consult of the employer-oriented Institute of the German Economy compares the current situation, rates of change of certain indicators (dynamics) as well as future perspectives of cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants.

Factors such as economic structure, the labour market, real estate, research strength, future industries and quality of life were analyzed.

However, other studies have arrived at different results. Research recently conducted by the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI) and the private bank Berenberg claimed Berlin has the best prospects for the future – although the study only considered the 30 largest German cities.

The capital city scored with a comparatively high percentage increase in population and the highest growth in the number of people employed.