Germany has that economic power-house reputation yet poverty remains high in Germany among single parents, the jobless and elderly, say social welfare groups. Low-skill workers have become disconnected from economic success.
2013 data from the federal statistics office, showing that more than half or nearly 52 percent of net assets in Germany were owned by just ten percent of the population. In a glaring contrast, half of Germany's population of 81 million owns only just over one percent of assets.
Germany's "Paritätische" federation, representing 10,000 social welfare groups, warned that nearly one in six of Germany's residents remained at risk of being trapped in relative poverty. The term used across the EU refers to anyone, child or adult, who lives on less than 60 percent of the medium income as measured statistically. In Germany, that threshold is 917 euros ($1,015) per month for a single person and 1,192 euros ($1,310) for a single parent with a child under six.
15.4% of the population nationwide was stuck below the poverty line. Relative poverty had climbed to a record 20% in North Rhine-Westphalia's Ruhr District, once the engine of German heavy industry.
Despite record employment, poverty had not declined, said Dorothee Spannagel, a social expert who analyzed poverty trends for the trade union-affiliated Hans-Böckler Foundation. She told the German news agency DPA that the gap in Germany between poor and rich continued to widen. Spannegel said the so-called low wage sector involving menial jobs had become disconnected from overall economic gains. In addition, there had been a surge in individuals earning from their capital investments. Spannagel explained that an individual's chance of making it ahead had diminished and the risk of falling into poverty had grown. In the 1980s, the risk of falling from the middle income milieu into poverty had been around 12 percent, she said. Since 2005, the risk had risen to 16 percent.