Number of gainfully employed people fell below 40 million in Germany

The economic crisis is more and more affecting the labour market. According to provisional figures provided by the Federal Statistical Office, in the first quarter 2009 the number of gainfully employed people fell to 39.9 million for the first time in nine months. Only in comparison with the first quarter in 2008 there was slight increase by 48,000 people (+0.1 %). However, without many employees working short-time in Germany the employment figure would have decreased even further.

As compared to the fourth quarter 2008 the number of gainfully employed people fell by 905,000 (-2.2%) in the first quarter 2009.

A decrease in employment in the first quarter is not unusual. According to the experts of the Federal Statistical Office, however, in the first quarter this year employment fell almost twice as much as the average figure in the first quarters of the past two years.

The change in the employment figure differed according to economic sector. There were increases in the service sector where employment increased by 119,000 people or 0.4% as compared to the first quarter in 2008 (fourth quarter 2008: +354,000). In the processing industry employment fell for the first time in nine quarters by 55,000 people or 0.7 % (fourth quarter 2008: +69,000). In the construction industry the employment figure was down by 23,000 or -1.1 % (fourth quarter 2008: -13,000). There was a slight increase by 7,000 employees or -0.9% in agriculture and the forest industry (fourth quarter 2008: +12,000 people).

The increase in the number of gainfully employed people as compared to the first quarter 2008 is due to an increase in the number of employees (+67,000 in the first quarter 2009 (+0.2 %) to 35.4 million people). The number of self-employed people fell for the first time in nine and a half years by 0.4 % to about 4.4 million people (-19,000).

According to provisional figures by the IAB institute, the average number of hours worked per each gainfully employed person fell by 3.1 % to 354.8 hours in the first quarter this year as compared to the respective period last year. The overall working volume which is the number of gainfully employed people multiplied by the average working hours fell to 14.1 billion hours (-2.9%). GERMAN