The left-wing faction in the Bundestag has called for an “Eastern Summit” in view of the persistent wage differences between East and West Germany. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) must take care of the matter, said parliamentary group leader Dietmar Bartsch to the newspapers of the Funke media group. “The issue of wage equalization must urgently become a top priority if the frustration in the East is not to boil over.” East German employees are still second-class workers in many areas.

According to the wage statistics from the Federal Employment Agency (BA), the average gross monthly wage of full-time employees subject to social security contributions in eastern Germany was almost 600 euros lower than in western Germany at the end of 2022. The so-called median wage was 3,752 euros in the old federal states and 3,157 euros in the new federal states.

Significant differences in districts and independent cities

From the BA’s point of view, the reasons for the sometimes significant differences are, among other things, the factors of company size and industry structure as well as collective bargaining agreements. The proportion of employees in companies with 250 or more employees of all employees in eastern Germany was 30.5 percent, lower than the proportion in the west (37.3). Collective bargaining coverage in the East is also significantly lower.

At the state level, according to the BA statistics, the range in West Germany ranged from 4,127 euros in Hamburg to 3,385 euros in Schleswig-Holstein and in East Germany from 3,806 euros in Berlin to 2,935 euros in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Differences were even clearer in districts and independent cities: the highest median wage was achieved in Ingolstadt, Bavaria (5,282 euros), the lowest in the Saxon district of Görlitz (2,650).

According to figures from the Federal Statistical Office released in the summer, employees in eastern Germany earned an average of 13,000 euros less per year than colleagues in the west. The average gross annual earnings for full-time employees in the west in 2022 was 58,085 euros and in the east it was 45,070 euros. The background is also special payments, which are on average almost twice as high in the West and have recently risen faster than in the East.