“Many employees in Germany can only expect small wage growth this year and next.” The Corona crisis will lead to a slump in wage growth rates across all professional groups,” says Philip Bierbach, Managing Director of the online portal Gehalt.de, which, like WELT AM SONNTAG, is part of Axel Springer SE.
According to a recent analysis by the portal, absolute gross salaries are still increasing this year by about 1.6 percent compared to the previous year. In 2021, only an increase of 0.3 percent is to be expected.
The non-representative analysis is based on 2.6 million data sets from the Gehalt.de database. The researchers also used additional information, such as tariff coverage, for their forecasts. Between 2009 and 2019, the average rate of wage growth was 2.57 percent, according to Gehalt.de, citing figures from the Federal Statistical Office.
The Federal Statistical Office also came to the conclusion that the Corona crisis is holding back wage growth. According to statisticians, real wages rose by 0.4 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period last year. This was the lowest increase since the end of 2013.
Nominal wages, which, unlike real wages, do not take inflation into account, rose by 2.1 percent. While wages had initially developed positively at the start of the year, according to the statisticians, the effects of the crisis began in the second half of March.
Many companies switched to short-time working. In some sectors, such as catering and hotels, nominal wages fell as the working hours of employees fell sharply.
“Wages will certainly be much worse than they have been in the past,” predicts Enzo Weber of the Institute for Labour Market and Occupational Research (IAB), the research institution of the Federal Employment Agency.
He does not expect nominal wages to fall overall. This would not normally happen even in crises in Germany. But: “Real wages may fall in some industries next year,” says Weber. He also expects the wage level to fall in the case of new hires.
Gehalt.de analysts predict large differences depending on the industry and activity. “Professional groups with high tariff coverage, clearly regulated training requirements and a strong presence in the public debate will be able to better use the attention of the crisis in collective bargaining and salary negotiations,” says Managing Director Bierbach.
In particular, nursing staff in hospitals will benefit (+3.1 percent). Elderly carers could also expect stable wage growth rates (+2.6 percent). According to the data, cashiers can expect a comparatively low increase of 1.7 percent.
The background is, among other things, the lower training requirements and the low level of collective bargaining. In the retail sector, for example, according to calculations by the IAB, only 36 percent of employees were protected by collective agreements in 2018.
The current crisis is hitting workers in the tourism industry, which is struggling to restrict travel opportunities, particularly hard. This year, the wage growth forecast for Gehalt.de is still 0.9 percent. In 2021, a “widespread stagnation” is to be expected.
A similar picture is emerging in the car industry. Gehalt.de analysts also expect a slump in special and bonus payments, which are usually paid for success and performance. It is currently “not realistic that companies will pay the variable salary shares in full or at all in 2020”.
Bierbach nevertheless sees positive signs when compared to the financial crisis of 2008/2009: “We currently assume that we can get out of the crisis better in terms of investment and salary development, because the pandemic is an exogenous crisis, but not a systemic crisis.” According to the Federal Statistical Office, real wages have risen by an average of one percent per year since 2007. Nominal wages have risen by an average of 33 percent since the start of the time series.
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