Millions of Full-Time Employed Europeans Still Poor

Written by | Friday, May 16th, 2014

Millions of Europeans can’t make ends meet, even when fully employed, reports a new study by the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI). About thirteen million Europeans fall below the EU’s poverty line while having fulltime jobs, which is – perhaps rather surprisingly – the case especially in Germany. The analysis has also found that the number of ‘poor’ full-time workers has grown over the past five years. To “qualify” as being poor for the purpose of the analysis, the employee must earn 50 percent or less than the average in a specific country. Maria Jepsen, the chief researcher at ETUI, pointed to this worrying development by stressing that “The risk of living in poverty has increased in the past years and increased the most among workers in full-time jobs. Previously we saw that if you had a full-time job, you would have a salary which you could live off, but this is no longer the case.”
This trend has been visible particularly in Germany – long regarded as the manufacturing engine of the EU economy – where various factors have caused wages slumping by 10-18 percent in only a few years particularly in the transport, hotel and cleaning industries, while other sectors have seen an increase by almost 20 percent. To that end, Thomas Rickers, chairman of the German metal workers at the Baltic Coast, has argued that the German labor market can’t be seen as a model to be emulated especially if “one forgets that millions of workers have paid and still pay for ‘the German model’ with falling wages.”

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