In 2015, Germany took in 1.1 million migrants from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Germany chose to be welcoming for the most part and has spent tens of billions of euros to integrate the migrant population through language and job training, hoping to get the newcomers off welfare and into work.
This effort was helped by an economy that had been in its 11th straight year of growth before the pandemic, and by a labour market hamstrung by chronic shortages.
Almost 40% of migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea, Iran, Pakistan, Nigeria and Somalia, who make up the bulk of asylum applicants, were employed at the start of the year, up from 16.4% in January 2016.
But that was then.
An estimated 28% of asylum seekers worked in hospitality or through temporary agencies, compared with 4% of Germans. This made the asylum seekers more likely to be laid off as the service sector tanked, and since they were hired last, they would also be the first to be let go. Unemployment among migrants increased by 27% from March to June, compared with 20% for Germans.
Herbert Bruecker of Humboldt University of Berlin said:
“Migrants are more affected by the crisis because they largely occupy jobs that can’t be done from home. We are talking about jobs in restaurants, hotels, cleaning, transport, and security.”
But it’s not all negative. Because the German population is literally dying off because they aren’t having enough children to replace themselves, the country needs the migrant population to replenish the workforce.
Wido Geis-Thoene of the economic institute IW Koeln said:
“The employment perspective for migrants will be unfavourable for a year or two. But the big picture remains favourable because of the negative demographic development.”
Germany’s working-age population shrank by 360,000 last year and the trend is forecast to accelerate.