Excerpted from the Germany Career Guide
Economic and Employment Outlook
With the largest population of any European Union (EU) country, Germany has traditionally enjoyed one of the most robust economies in Europe. Germany's economy is the fifth-largest in the world and the largest in Europe. It is also ranked third in the world in exports.Overall, Germany's success can be attributed to the industrial sector, particularly the electrical, electronics and mechanical engineering industries.
Germany boasts 34 global Fortune 500 companies with revenues ranging from 19 billion to 168 billion USD. The top five are Volkswagen, Daimler, Allianz, E.ON and Siemens.Additionally, there are more than 55,000 foreign-owned companies operating in Germany.
Despite the ongoing Euro crisis, and the US and China's weakening economies, Germany's export-driven economy performed well last year. The German Federal Statistical Office reports GDP increased by 3 percent, and last year was a record-breaking year for exports and employment rates. Although this year Germany's economic growth is expected to slow significantly, economists still forecast growth between 0.3 and 0.6 percent (other European economies can only wish for that much growth). However, with the global fear of falling into another recession, German economists and experts are constantly revising their economic forecasts.
Major German economic institutions and experts agree unemployment will continue to decline this year. Germany's Federal Labor Agency expects the unemployment rate will drop to 6.8 percent this year, which would make it the lowest rate since 1992.
However, unemployment in Eastern Germany is at 12 percent, nearly double the rate of Western Germany (6.9 percent). Younger, low-skilled workers are at a disadvantage in Germany's labor market, which is in need of skilled workers. Nevertheless, Germany is one of only three EU member states to have the youth unemployment rate at under 10 percent. Last year, 8.5 percent of workers under age 25 were unemployed.
Salaries and Wages
Although Germany has no federal minimum wage, collective agreements in certain industries and states provide a minimum wage. Low-income workers in Eastern Germany earn an average of 6.52 EUR hourly, compared to 6.68 EUR in Western Germany.
Areas of Job Promise
Germany has recovered from the recession so well it is facing a shortage of skilled workers. As a result, Germany is now welcoming immigrant workers, especially those from Southern and Eastern European countries, where unemployment is soaring. The Federal Employment Agency reports more than 1.13 million vacant jobs in Germany.
According to the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), as many as 250,000 new jobs may be created this year, with 80,000 in health and social services, 50,000 in information technology and 40,000 in engineering. In fact, the Association of German Engineers (VDI) claims there are 80,000 vacant engineering positions in the country.
This is just a short sample of what you’ll find in over 100 pages of information in the complete Germany Guide.