The number of short-time workers in Germany has risen sharply in the midst of the new corona wave.

In December it increased to 879,000 people, from 712,000 in the previous month, as the Munich Ifo Institute estimated on Wednesday based on its company surveys and figures from the Federal Employment Agency.

That is now 2.6 percent of the workforce, after 2.1 percent in November.

"The growing Corona numbers increased short-time working in the hospitality industry and in retail in particular," said Ifo researcher Sebastian Link.

Both areas are particularly affected by the Corona requirements.

With the exception of shops for daily needs such as supermarkets and drugstores, only those who have been vaccinated or recovered (2G) are allowed to enter the shops.

Load delivery bottlenecks

The hospitality industry recorded an increase from 75,000 to 126,000. In retail, the number of short-time workers rose from 23,000 to 53,000. It was particularly high in the automotive industry with 17.6 percent or 166,000 employees. In industry as a whole, the number grew from 381,000 to 390,000 employees (5.6 percent). "This is a consequence of the increasing supply bottlenecks," said Link. The industry is sitting on a record mountain of orders, but can hardly process them because important parts such as semiconductors are missing.

Before the outbreak of the Corona crisis in Germany, the number of short-time workers was 134,000 in February 2020.

In March it jumped to 2.6 million and finally reached the record level of six million in April 2020.

"That had never happened before, not even in the 2008 financial crisis," said the Munich economic researchers.

Many experts assume that the economy will shrink in the current first quarter due to the current strong expansion of the Omikron variant.

That could further increase the number of short-time workers.