April 16, 2018 / 8:59 AM / a year ago

Staff shortages cost Germany 0.9 percent of output each year - IW

FILE PHOTO: Employees of German car manufacturer Porsche assemble sports cars at the Porsche factory in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, Germany, January 26, 2018. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - German companies are struggling to find skilled workers to increase production and the shortage of manpower is costing the economy up to 0.9 percentage points of output a year, the IW German Economic Institute said on Monday.

Germany’s labour market is booming, with employment reaching record highs. But an unusually long economic growth cycle, now in its ninth year, coupled with a shortage of working-age people, mean firms are running out of suitable staff.

Even if German managers were to hire all suitably qualified unemployed people, there would still be some 400.000 vacancies, the IW institute estimated.

This means the overall output of Europe’s biggest economy would be 0.6 percentage points higher if companies could hire all the workers they needed, the IW study found.

Since companies expanding their workforce also tend to increase investment in machinery and equipment, overall output would be 0.9 percentage points higher in the medium term, it said.

The DIHK Chambers of Industry and Commerce said last month that labour shortages were threatening to undermine Germany’s economic upswing. The economy grew by 2.2 percent last year, the strongest rate in six years.

A DIHK survey of some 24,000 companies showed nearly every second one was unable to find suitable candidates for job vacancies over a longer period, and six out of 10 managers saw the lack of qualified staff as a threat to their business.

Among the sectors most affected by the problem are manufacturing, construction, security services, education, childcare and geriatric care.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Mark Potter

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