Dusseldorf (dpa) - Almost 30 years after the reunification employees earn in the new federal states, even with the same qualifications significantly less than workers in West Germany.

This is the result of an investigation by the trade union Hans Böckler Foundation. According to this, the wage gap for employees of the same sex, in the same occupation and with comparable work experience is 16.9 percent. The Economics and Social Sciences Institute of the Böckler Foundation had evaluated almost 175,000 data records of the wage level it had compiled by survey.

In addition to differences in economic power, the WSI researchers estimate that the lower spread of collective agreements is a major reason for the wage gap in the new Länder. "In the collective wage, the unions have now been able to enforce a far-reaching alignment between East and West," said the WSI tariff expert Malte Lübker. Thus, the tariff level in East Germany in 2018 was 97.6 percent of the West.

"But collective agreements can only be effective where they are applied in a binding manner," Lübker said. He referred to calculations by the Institute for Employment Research, according to which in 2018 in the new countries, only 45 percent of employees were paid by a collective agreement. By contrast, 56 percent had been in the West.

The new annual report of the Federal Government on the status of German unity has also established a clear pay gap. In 2018, East German full-time employees would still earn around 16 percent less per month than those in West Germany, according to the report presented last week. However, the wage gap between East and West has become smaller, in 2017 they still amounted to 19 percent.

Also between the East German states there is a pay gap according to the WSI investigation. In Brandenburg, also due to the prospering surrounding Berlin, the gap compared to the west of the gap with 13.9 percent lowest. The bottom bracket in the East is Saxony, where earnings are 18.2 percent below the level for comparable activities in the West.

According to the study, the wage gap is particularly high among employees who have acquired a commercial training or further technical qualification after completing their training. Employees in East Germany earned 18.4 percent less than in the West. On the other hand, for jobs that generally require a university degree, the gap is 15.4 percent.

Annual Report of the Federal Government on the state of German Unity