In-work poverty in Germany

From the German daily newspaper Junge Welt

The German economy is booming. Month after month the Federal Agency for Labour celebrates new records for those in employment.

But in 63 out of 401 German districts and towns the officially recognised living costs are so high that the current minimum wage of 8.84 Euros is not enough to meet the cost of living. This figure has risen from only 19 districts a year ago. Most of these districts are in Bavaria. But in Frankfurt am Main too a minimum wage of 10.19 Euros would be required to meet costs.

Those unable to meet the costs who apply for welfare support fall into the Hartz IV system, with its array of requirements and repressive sanctions. For example, they can be forced to seek a better paid job. If they don't make enough job applications or miss an appointment, even workers in full time jobs can be sanctioned. In March 2018 some 64,000 of a total of 132,000 sanctioned were not 'unemployed'.

The locally determined rent caps for Hartz IV recipients are often so low that there is hardly any housing available. This means households already scraping around to meet living costs had in January 2018 to pay 60 million Euros for rent - 19 Euros per month per household.

Around 9 million workers in Germany work for the minimum wage or only marginally more.