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Working in Germany: Where are the most jobs in the car industry?

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Working in Germany: Where are the most jobs in the car industry?
Archive picture shows Porsche AG employees in Stuttgart. Photo: DPA

Germany's world-renowned automotive industry is going through a tough time, but it's still one of the country's biggest employers. We looked at where the jobs are across the Bundesrepublik.


According to figures from the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) and reported on by trades magazine Wirtschafts Woche, more than 850,000 people were working in Germany's automotive industry in 2018. That is 17 percent more than in 2009, when there were still about 730,000 employees.

Meanwhile, the number of auto firms have remained constant during that time at just under 1360.

But there's no doubt that Germany's world famous car industry is going through a tough time due to weak global growth, the costly shift to electric vehicles and threats by US President Donald Trump to impose car tariffs.

The industry has also been battling for years to escape the after-effects of the "dieselgate" emissions cheating scandal that broke over Volkswagen in 2015 and has since spread to other manufacturers.

Several major carmakers including VW and Daimler have announced thousands of job cuts for the coming years.


And a forecast for the number of cars set to roll off German production lines this year showed the figure at a 22-year low of 4.67 million.

Yet hopes are high that US electric pioneer Tesla's first European factory just outside Berlin will boost German carmakers.

So just how important is the sector to the economy in numbers?

Well, Germany's car industry generated roughly €426 billion in total sales in 2018, compared to €423 billion the year before.

READ ALSO: New Tesla factory near Berin to create 'up to 10,000 jobs'

Which states have the most car industry jobs?

A look at the federal states shows that the industry has a different presence depending on the region.

For example, in Baden-Württemberg, the front-runner, the industry employs over 233,000 people, followed by Bavaria with just under 208,000 people.

According to official statistics no other federal state is home to auto employees in the six-digit range.

Photo: DPA

This does not mean, however, that there are no other car jobs across the country.

Official car industry employment statistics for Bremen, Hamburg and Lower Saxony are not published because of so-called statistical secrecy. Thenumbers are so small that statistics could result in individual details being identified.

For Bremen and Hamburg this makes sense, as there is not a large amount of companies with lots of employees.

Lower Saxony, on the other hand, is home to Volkswagen, one of the largest German car manufacturers. But if too many employees work for one employer alone, the statisticians believe that secrecy can be violated and choose not to publish the figures.

But VW itself steps in here: according to its own figures, the group employs more than 131,000 people in Lower Saxony alone. This puts the state in third place among Germany's car employees.

READ ALSO: German car sales plummet as new pollution rules bite

Here's a breakdown of the number of employees in Germany's auto industry in 2018 compared to 2009, according to official figures:

Baden-Württemberg - 233,296 (2009 - 196,417)

Bavaria - 207,829 (2009 - 207,829)

Lower Saxony - 131,000 (2009 - 111,348) *VW figures

North Rhine-Westphalia - 83,809 (2009 - 81,983)

Saxony - 38,053 (2009 - 24,164)

Rhineland-Palatinate - 22,314 (2009 - 27,211)

Saarland - 22,314 (2009 - 22,733)

Thuringia - 17,497 (2009 - 14,592)

Brandenburg - 6984 (2009 - 5797)

Schleswig-Holstein - 3916 (2009 - 4010)

Saxony-Anhalt - 3877 (2009 - 2799)

Berlin - 3383 (2009 - 3631)

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania - 3182 (2009 - 2145)

A VW e-Golf in production hangs in the Dresden factory. Photo: DPA

Who are the big employers?

The number of companies is also particularly large in the two states in the south (Bavaria: 240, Baden-Württemberg: 285).

It is interesting to note that North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), with a total of 246 companies, has even more firms than Bavaria. But with just under 84,000 staff, there’s only a fraction of the number of employees.

In Bavaria, the car multinational BMW alone employs 77,000 people, almost as many as those who work in the car industry in NRW as a whole.

Another heavyweight is Audi in Ingolstadt. In NRW, on the other hand, there are mainly small and medium-sized companies with comparatively few employees.

The state of Rhineland-Palatinate has suffered the most from the crisis in the automotive industry so far.

In 2009, 27,000 people were still working in the 'motor vehicles and parts' sector, as defined by Destatis. Nine years later the figure was only 22,000. Even so, the auto industry remains the second most important sector in the state.

READ ALSO: How Germany is preparing for the rise of the electric car

Which cities employ the most people?

The official statistics not only provide data by federal state, but even down to the level of counties and cities.

The data shows that the car sector in Germany is mainly concentrated in regional clusters. In the Stuttgart district alone, for example, almost 160,000 people work in the motor vehicle and parts sector.

No wonder, given that Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, Bosch and suppliers such as ElringKlinger all manufacture there.

Upper Bavaria, with BMW and Audi, also has a particularly large workforce of 105,000.

So far, the crisis in the automotive industry has not been reflected in the employment figures for the sector – quite the opposite. 

According to their own figures, both VW and BMW have significantly increased the number of employees between 2009 and 2019, from 62,000 to 77,000 (BMW in Bavaria) and from 95,000 to 131,000 (VW in Lower Saxony).

But there are fears that the switch to electromobility could result in serious job losses in Germany's auto industry.

A recent study found that 410,000 jobs are at risk of being cut by the end of the decade.

However, not everyone believes that will happen. 

"The assumption that up to 410,000 jobs could be lost in the coming years is based on an unrealistic extreme scenario," said German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) Managing Director Kurt-Christian Scheel.


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