A new analysis from the Labour Office (BA) shows that the number of people who go directly onto the most basic level of support – known as Hartz IV – has risen since 2008, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Thursday.
The rules say that a person who pays into the unemployment insurance system for at least one of the two years before they lose their job has a right to unemployment money – on average €812 a month. This is normally paid for a year before being reduced to Hartz IV which is €364 a month.
But the BA analysis showed that increasing numbers of those losing their jobs did not qualify for this as they had either not been working for long enough, or their wages had been too low to trigger the higher levels of unemployment benefits.
The BA said that around 2.8 million people lost their jobs in Germany during the 12 months until the end of November. Of these 737,000 went straight onto Hartz IV – an average of 61,000 a month. Three years ago this monthly figure was 51,000, the study showed.
The risk of becoming dependent on Hartz IV payments is heavily dependent on a person’s qualifications, with half of those with low qualifications going straight onto the basic support, while this is the case with only one in five of those with better qualifications.
Annelie Buntenbach, executive at the German Trades Union (DGB) said the figures showed “how full of holes the unemployment insurance has become and how many people are working in insecure jobs.”
She called for the qualification conditions for the higher level of unemployment support to be relaxed to enable more people to get it.