Why are more and more people in Germany working multiple jobs?

Why are more and more people in Germany working multiple jobs?
Lots of Germans have more than one job. Photo: DPA
More than three million employees in Germany work more than one job, new figures show.

And the number of people working in multiple jobs is going up. At the end of June 2019, around 3.54 million people were registered as having more than one job, according to a response by the Federal Employment Agency (BA) to an inquiry by the Left Party in the Bundestag.

Compared to June 2018, that's an increase of about 123,600 people – a rise of 3.62 percent, reported German regional newspaper, the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

The vast majority – just under three million – of those in multiple employment have a so-called mini-job or marginal employment in addition to a job subject to social insurance contributions.

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A small number of people have two or more jobs subject to social insurance contributions (about 350,000), while the third most common variant is a combination of two or more so-called mini-jobs (just under 260,700 people).

Mini-jobs in Germany were created to promote higher employment rates through income tax-free marginal employment, with workers making at most €450 a month in part-time jobs.

Politicians say the figures show that many people are struggling to make ends meet.

“For more and more employees, income from one job is no longer sufficient,” said Sabine Zimmermann, member of the Left party. 

Zimmermann called for the minimum wage to be raised to €12 per hour “as a first step”. 

Currently the minimum wage is €9.35 per hour. She also called for Germany to ditch fixed-term contracts and temporary work and ensure companies offer more stable jobs.

Which groups in Germany tend to work multiple jobs?

According to labour market experts, women, those in part-time employment and middle-aged people in particular increasingly need two jobs to make ends meet.

It is still a minority of employees who have two or more jobs: 3.5 million compared to some 39 million employed people in Germany (not counting civil servants and those who are self-employed).

“Nevertheless, the increase is striking, especially since the Hartz reforms (unemployment benefit reforms),” said labour market expert Enzo Weber of the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) in an interview with German broadcaster Tagesschau. “Although it is not a majority phenomenon, it is a fairly large minority.”

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Since 2003, the number of people who have at least one side job in addition to another job subject to social insurance contributions has more than doubled: from 1,386,231 in mid-2003 to 3,537,686 in mid-2019.

At just under 57 percent, there are more women than men represented among the multiple job holders, according to an IAB report. It also revealed that part-time employees are represented more frequently (just under 64 per cent) than full-time employees, and employees between 40 and 50 form the largest group.

IAB researchers say the main motive for taking on several jobs is a financial one: that could be because an employee cannot work as many hours as he or she wants in their main job or because the salary is too low.

A study by the Hans Böckler Foundation's Economic and Social Science Institute confirms this. A total of 53 percent of those surveyed cited financial difficulties as the main reason for picking up an extra job.


Mini-jobs/ marginal unemployment – (die) geringfügige Beschäftigung

Part-time workers – (die) Teilzeitbeschäftigte

Side job/extra job – (der) Nebenjob

Financial difficulties – (die) finanzielle Schwierigkeiten

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