Development in December: More employees on short-time work again

Status: 12.01.2022 09:36 a.m.

The number of employees on short-time work has risen sharply again in the midst of the new corona wave. Employees in the hospitality and auto industries are particularly hard hit.

In Germany, significantly more employees are on short-time work again. According to an estimate by the Munich Ifo Institute based on company surveys and figures from the Federal Employment Agency, 879,000 people were on short-time work in December. This increased the proportion of short-time workers from 2.1 percent to 2.6 percent of the workforce compared to the previous month of November.

Employees in the automotive industry are particularly affected: 17.6 percent of employees there are on short-time work. In industry as a whole, the number rose from 381,000 to 390,000 employees. This corresponds to 5.6 percent of the employees. “This is a consequence of the increasing supply bottlenecks,” said Ifo researcher Sebastian Link. The industry is sitting on a record mountain of orders. However, they can hardly be processed because important parts such as semiconductors are missing.

Omikron could put a brake on economic recovery

After a decline in summer, more people are on short-time work again in the hospitality and retail sectors. The hospitality industry saw an increase from 75,000 in November to 126,000 in December. In retail, the number of short-time workers rose from 23,000 to 53,000. Both areas are particularly affected by the Corona requirements. With the exception of shops for daily needs such as supermarkets and drug stores, only those who have been vaccinated or recovered are allowed to enter the shops. “The growing Corona numbers increased short-time working in the hospitality and retail sectors in particular,” said Ifo researchers

Before the outbreak of the Corona crisis, the number of short-time workers was 134,000 in February 2020. It reached the record value of six million in April 2020. “That had never happened before, not even in the financial crisis of 2008”, according to the Munich economic researchers.

Many experts assume that the economy will shrink in the current first quarter due to the current strong expansion of the Omikron variant. That could further increase the number of short-time workers.

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