Real wages down in the first quarter 2009

For the first time the Federal Statistical Office calculated a so-called real wage index for the first quarter 2009 which compares the development of wages and prices. Thus, the index reflects the development of purchasing power bound to wages and salaries. This index fell by 0.4 % in the first quarter as compared to the first quarter last year. The drop in real wages and salaries is mainly due to a weak increase in salaries and wages (+0.4 %), according to the Federal Statistical Office.

This weak increase was, in turn, a consequence of less extra payments which fell by 7.9 % as compared to the first quarter in 2008. Basic wages and salaries, i.e. gross monthly payments without extra payments, increased by 1.5 % over the same period.

Widespread short work in the first quarter of 2009 significantly affected gross monthly wages and salaries as well as the number of hours worked. Thus, weekly paid working time in the producing industry and the service sector was down by 1.6 % in the first quarter this year as compared to the respective quarter last year. Particularly affected by short work was the processing industry where weekly paid working time shrank by 4.2 % to an average 36.8 hours.

The average monthly gross wages and salaries in the processing industry fell by 2.3 % in comparison with the first quarter in 2008. Thus, short work led to a decrease of both working time and gross monthly wages and salaries. Gross hourly wages, however, are not affected by short work. Thus, gross hourly wages in the processing industry increased by 2.0%.

An employee working full-time in the German producing industry or the service sector earned on average a gross monthly salary or wage (without extra payments) amounting to 3108 Euros in the first quarter this year. Wages and salaries were highest for people working in the fields of information and communications (4137 Euros), energy supply (4128 Euros) and the finance and insurance industry (4096 Euros). The smallest mounts of money were paid, on the other hand, in the hotel and restaurant industry (1882 Euros) and in the field of other services (2067 Euros) as well as in the construction industry (2501 Euros).

Not only did employees in the German processing industry have to put up with smaller average monthly gross wages (-2.3%) in the first quarter 2009, but also people working in the construction industry (-1.3 %).

From slight wage increased benefited employees in the hotel and restaurant industry (+1.3 %) and trade (+1.5 %). Wage and salary rises were biggest for employees in the field of other economic services (+ 5.9 %) as well as for those in the field of energy supply (5.1 %) and public administration (+4.8 %). GERMAN