According to experts, the tourism industry in Austria will once again rely on thousands of workers from Germany in the coming winter season. The Germans are coming because there are higher wage levels in tourism than in Germany, said the head of the Austrian Labor Market Service (AMS), Johannes Kopf, to the German Press Agency. “Whether I go from East Germany to Bavaria or to Tyrol is also decided by money.”

Nevertheless, Kopf expects that not all positions in the holiday regions can be filled. According to the labor market expert, this will be accompanied by a partially limited offer at some huts and hotels.

In the last winter season, around 12,000 people from Germany found employment in Austria’s hotels and restaurants. Overall, Germans are no longer the largest group on the labor market. For the first time in decades, with 123,000, they are just behind the Hungarians, 126,000 of whom are employed in the Alpine republic, said Kopf.

In Austria, the internationally complained labor shortage is less pronounced, according to the AMS boss. “We have had above-average immigration of around 500,000 people in the past ten years.” In addition, from 2024, the retirement age of women will rise – gradually until 2033 from the current 60 to 65 years, like for men. This brings in 20,000 workers a year who would otherwise have disappeared from the market, said Kopf.

This measure, which is very welcome in terms of labor market policy, is also due to the fact that a decision made decades ago about a mandatory pension gap of five years between men and women is now expiring.

Although the unemployment rate in Austria is higher than in Germany – according to Eurostat, in August it was 5.3 percent in Austria and 3 percent in Germany – and there are large regional differences here too, Kopf doesn’t think much of tightening the reasonableness rules, for example based on the German model. Pressure on unemployed people to move to another city for a new job, for example, would have little impact. “You cannot create will by force.” It should also be asked whether the German employment offices really consistently demand a move and, if not, actually sanction it, says Kopf.

The economic downturn in Germany is also leaving its mark in Austria, said the labor market expert, with a view to the high export rate to the neighboring country. “If Germany is doing badly, Austria is never doing well.” However, he does not expect any significant strain on the labor market in the long term.

The gradual reduction in working hours is also evident as a trend in Austria. The currently around four million employees work significantly fewer hours than the 3.9 million before the corona pandemic. “The main reason is men who want more time for themselves and their family,” said Kopf.

Unemployment rates Eurostat AMS for working in Austria