social benefits

Refugees Swell Public Assistance Rolls

Flüchtlinge warten am 19.11.2015 in der Registrierungsstelle für Flüchtlinge in Berlin. In dem Haus in der Bundesallee im Stadtbezirk Wilmersdorf sitzen von der Erstregistrierung über den Antrag auf Asyl beim Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (BAMF) bis zur Ausländerbehörde und der Bundesagentur für Arbeit alle so genannten Entscheider unter einem Dach. Foto: Soeren Stache/dpa +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++
Refugees in Berlin wait to register as asylum seekers
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany’s federal and state governments are struggling to allocate enough resources to deal with the influx of refugees and migrants.

  • Facts


    • The number of social welfare recipients has declined overall by 1.2 percent over the past year.
    • A quarter of all social welfare recipients are now migrants or refugees.
    • The number of Syrians receiving benefits nearly doubled to 242,000 over the past year and the number of Eritreans has tripled to 16,800.
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The overall number of social welfare recipients in Germany has declined by 71,000 or 1.2 percent over the past year, according to the latest figures released by the Federal Employment Agency.

But one out of every four recipients of public assistance, known as Hartz IV in Germany, is now a migrant or refugee. Of the 5.9 million people receiving benefits as of April, some 1.5 million or 26 percent were refugees and migrants.

Some 322,000 refugees sought help finding work with the Federal Employment Agency in July, including 141,000 who registered as unemployed.

The number of Syrians receiving social welfare benefits nearly doubled to 242,000, and the number of people from the East African nation of Eritrea receiving benefits tripled to 16,800.

Over the past year, more than 1 million migrants and refugees have arrived in Germany seeking asylum. Syrians fleeing civil war in their homeland represent the largest group of refugees.

Germany’s labor minister, Andrea Nahles, has said refugees could swell the rolls of Germany’s social welfare programs by an additional 1 million people by 2019.

Social welfare recipients from Romania and Bulgaria, both members of the European Union, also increased by more than a third.

The number of Germans receiving benefits was down by 5.2 percent and the number of recipients from Russia, Turkey and Ukraine also declined significantly.

People from Turkey represent the largest group of migrants receiving social welfare benefits in Germany at 5 percent, followed by Syrians at 4.1 percent.

Some 322,000 refugees sought help finding work with the Federal Employment Agency in July, including 141,000 who registered as unemployed.

According to the Federal Employment Agency, registering as unemployed is the first step toward integration.

The German federal government has set aside €8 billion ($8.8 billion) to assist refugees, half of which will go directly to the country’s 16 states.

The state governments have set aside €16.7 billion in total, or between 3 percent and 8 percent of their budgets, according to a survey conducted by Handelsblatt.

The finance minister of Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, has estimated that integrating the influx of refugees could ultimately cost the state and federal government between €20 billion and €25 billion annually.

Most of this year’s costs will go towards accommodation and language and integration courses.

Frank Specht reports on the labor market and trade unions for Handelsblatt in Berlin. To contact the

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