Germany’s electronics industry is unstoppable. After last year’s excellent results, Germany’s Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association (ZVEI) is also optimistic for 2018. However, joy is not entirely unconfined.
Once again as strong as it used to be – that is how Germany’s electronics industry presented itself in 2017. The highest growth since the financial crisis of 2010 and 2011 with sales and exports reaching new heights, while the number of people employed also again rose significantly. These were the key messages from ZVEI’s board chairman Dr. Klaus Mittelbach at this year’s kick-off press conference.
Adjusted for price, production in the electronics industry grew by 4.6% between January and November 2017 compared to the previous year. Over the same period, sales – including services and software – increased by 7.3% to 174 billion euros. The figure for the whole of last year will probably reach 190 billion euros, about eight billion euros more than in the previous record year, 2007.
Exports: from one record to the next
There is again an exclamation mark against the export figures: compared to the previous year, total industry exports – including re-exports – between January and November 2017 increased by 10.1% to 183.3 billion euros. Over the whole of last year they are likely to reach the 200 billion euro mark – setting a new record for the fourth year running. Most of the exports went to China, followed by the US and France. Sector exports to China between January and November 2017 grew by 18.1% year-on-year to 17.4 billion euros. Over the same period exports to the US increased by 6.9% to 15.8 billion euros, in spite of the euro having appreciated against the dollar by 15%. Our neighbor France also increasingly decided in favor of German electrical and electronic engineering, rising by 8.1% to 11.5 billion euros.
Shortage of skilled labor inhibits growth
The number of people employed in the domestic electronics industry increased again last year by 21,500 to 868,000. This is the highest figure for 16 years! And in contrast to recent years, productivity (labor efficiency) also increased in 2017 – by 3%. In spite of this, unit labor costs have fallen only slightly. Besides the domestic workforce, there are a further 706,000 employees abroad. This means that worldwide, almost 1.6 million people are employed by the German electronics industry.
But not everything is upbeat when it comes to employment, because the electronics industry is most particularly dependent on engineers and specialists from the fields of mathematics and science, and these are in short supply. ZVEI’s chief economist Andreas Gontermann sees this as endangering sustainable growth.
ZVEI’s kick-off press conference for 2018