Is Germany becoming a 'low wage' country?

Sarah Magill
Sarah Magill - [email protected]
Is Germany becoming a 'low wage' country?
A woman vacuums a corridor in a hotel in Hamburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Daniel Reinhardt

More and more people are having to take on multiple jobs to get by in Germany, as many salaries are too low to keep up with living costs.


More than 3.5 million people in Germany have more than one job - a figure which has more than doubled in the past 20 years. The problem is being exacerbated by high inflation which, in 2022, reached an average of 7.9 percent - the highest level since German reunification.

According to Philipp Schumann, the Secretary-General of the service trade union Verdi Germany is becoming a "low-wage country".

He told Taggeschau: "With a minimum wage of €12, working full-time for 42 hours a week earns you slightly less than €2,200. That's only about 60 percent of the average income in Germany and is not enough to make a living."

READ ALSO: 'Real' wages fell at record speed in Germany last year

He also said that it may be that the German job market could soon end up resembling that of the US, with more and more people taking on multiple jobs to get by financially.

He said that only when those affected earn about 80 percent of the average income would they no longer need two or more jobs. But, for that to happen, the minimum wage would need to rise to around €17 to €18 per hour.

Enough work, but not enough money

When the minimum wage was increased to €12 per hour on October 1st, 2022, many hoped for an improvement in their standard of living. But rising inflation dashed those hopes.

According to the most recent "poverty report" by the German Parity Welfare Association from 2022, 16.9 percent of the population in Germany was affected by poverty, and the trend is rising, as sharply increasing prices in recent months are making more and more workers poor.

READ ALSO: Germany slips into recession with negative first quarter

The phenomenon of multiple employment is also affecting people from all educational backgrounds and is no longer limited to low-wage sector workers.


The report by Tagesschau includes the example of Olaf Karg, who studied social law and worked as a mortgage broker until the end of last year. However, due to an increase in interest rates, his business collapsed, and since then, he has been working multiple jobs.

He works as a sound assistant at conferences, a DJ, and an emergency medical technician. "In the worst months, I was missing high four-digit sums of euros. With just one job, I would be €1,000 short and would reach my financial limits," the 53-year-old said about his situation. 


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also