Stat of the month: Germany's long skid

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The number of German jobs directly or indirectly dependent on the car industry

Time was when getting a job at VW, Mercedes or BMW meant a cushy number for life: a decent wage, great conditions and a short working week. In return, workers were highly productive. Drivers everywhere paid top dollar for German brands and all was happy on the production line. But times have changed. The car industry worldwide is a sickly beast with huge over-supply, and it's at its most acutely uncompetitive in Germany. Car workers in the Czech Republic take home about Eur5.2 per hour, but in China it's about Eur1.1 an hour. In western Germany, by contrast, those who attach the badges to the bonnets can take home more than Eur50 an hour. Tun Sie die Mathematik (Do the math). Job losses are occurring slowly at VW but the subject is politically sensitive. However, cost-trimming will be hastened as Ferdinand Piech, scion of the Porsche clan, comes to dominate at VW (Porsche makes the finest margins around). As for medium-term prospects, those of a pessimistic bent predict that in 15 years' time the manufacture of cars in western Europe will be a mere memory.

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