Immigrants Struggle In German Job Market

Foreigners have worse chances on the German job market than Germans, the Cologne Institute for Economic Research has found. Worst affected are immigrants from Arabic countries.


No German passport, no job? Using data from the German Federal Employment Agency, the Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW) has now for the first time compared the chances of Germans and foreigners in the country’s labor market. The result is clear: people who move to Germany have significantly worse prospects of landing a job.

People on part-time employment, public officials, and the self-employed were not taken into account by the new statistics – which meant that the owners of foreign restaurants, for instance, were also not counted. Only foreigners with residence permits were included, so refugees and asylum seekers were also left out of the figures.

But despite these limitations, there remains an “unambiguous overall picture,” said Holger Schäfer, labor market consultant at IW, “Fundamentally, foreigners have a much higher unemployment rate than Germans.” In fact, it is about double: while the unemployment rate in Germany in June was 7 percent, for people without a German passport it was around 14 percent.

Arab immigrants most affected

Immigrants to Germany from the Arab world had the highest unemployment rates – particularly people from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran. “That is surely also because people don’t come to Germany for professional reasons, but as refugees, and so find it more difficult to get a professional foothold,” said Schäfer.

In absolute terms, most of the unemployed people of foreign origin also belong to the largest immigrant groups in Germany: 140,000 of the 460,000 Turks, for instance. A Turk living in Germany is two or three times more likely to be unemployed than a German.

Professional immigrants are well-integrated

BERLIN - SEPTEMBER 05: Young women training to become seamstresses work at sewing machines shortly before the arrival of German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the BildungsWerk Kreuzberg, a vocational training school in the immigrant-heavy district of Kreuzberg, on September 5, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. Merkel is visiting schools across Germany in order to get a better unserstanding of the state of Germany's education system. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Job qualifications need to be targetted at the immigrant community, says Schäfer

On the other hand, immigrants from other Western nations barely show up in the stats. French, British, or American people apparently have the same chances as Germans. “Eastern Europeans also hold their own well: Poles, for instance, are only barely more often unemployed than Germans,” said Schäfer. “And Romanians, who are often accused of coming to Germany to take advantage of the welfare system, are actually slightly less likely to be unemployed than Germans.”

Qualification is key

The root for the higher rate of unemployment was clearly the “deficit in qualification,” argued Schäfer. Foreigners often either have no or only very limited educational qualifications, with a quarter of foreigners having no job training qualifications at all, compared to 8 percent among Germans. “The employment agencies have to do more to target young people from abroad,” said Schäfer.

– DW