This group of inactive people plays a role in the discussion about the shortage of skilled workers. People’s conditions and motives for not working are different.
Around 3 million unemployed people in Germany actually want paid work. However, these people between the ages of 15 and 74 are not available for the labor market for various reasons, as reported by the Federal Statistical Office. The group is referred to as the “hidden reserve” and accounted for around 16 percent of all non-employed people last year. In 2021 there were 3.1 million people and thus around 17 percent of all non-working people.
With a share of almost 57 percent, women are overrepresented in the “hidden reserve”. In the age group between 25 and 59 years, more than 34 percent reported that they could not take up work because they had to look after relatives. Among men of the same age, just over every 20th (5.6 percent) gave this reason.
Around 58 percent of those affected have at least an intermediate qualification, i.e. they have completed vocational training or the university/technical college entrance qualification. Some of them are not available for work at short notice because they have to look after relatives, for example. Or they don’t actively look for work at all because they think they won’t be able to find a suitable job. According to the analysis of the 2021 microcensus, the statistical office counts almost 1.3 million people in these two groups.
There is also a third group of people who are particularly remote from the labor market and who are neither looking for a job nor available, but who expressed a general desire to work in the microcensus survey. This is about 1.7 million people who were not counted as “hidden reserves” in Germany by 20201.