BERLIN (Reuters) – Real wages in Germany rose by 0.4% in the first quarter but that was their weakest increase in around six years and came before the coronavirus pandemic took its full toll on Europe’s largest economy, data from the Statistics Office showed on Tuesday.
The Statistics Office said nominal wages climbed by around 2.1% from the same period the previous year, while consumer prices rose by around 1.6% percent from the previous year, leaving consumers with more cash in their pockets.
But the rise in real wages was the slowest since the fourth quarter of 2013.
Germany went into lockdown in March to slow the spread of the coronavirus, with many firms halting production and shops closing.
Some companies have resorted to using short-time work – a form of state aid that allows employers to switch employees to shorter working hours during an economic downturn to keep them on the payroll.
The Statistics Office pointed out that short-time work largely started from the second half of March but said a drop in nominal wages on the year was already visible in the January-March period in the catering and lodging sectors, largely due to the decline in working hours.
Data published by the Federal Labour Office has shown unemployment rising in May and the unemployment rate jumping to 6.3% from 5.8% in April.
(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Madeline Chambers)