First, let's put some salient numbers on the table: 5.5 million versus 2.7 million and $67.14 per hour versus $33.77 per hour.

The first set of numbers belong to Germany, and represent the total number of vehicles built in 2010 and the average wage of an autoworker in that country. The second set of numbers are the equivalent figures from the United States. In other words, twice as many vehicles are built in Germany every year than in the U.S., and German autoworkers make double what their American counterparts earn.

Interestingly enough, all three major German automakers – the BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen groups – operate facilities in both their home market of Germany and in the U.S. And, just as intriguingly, the factory workers in the southern states of America who work for German automakers aren't paid wages that even come close to matching those of their German counterparts.

Why the disparity? According to an article from Remappingdebate.org, it has to do with an ongoing "race to the bottom" when it comes to wages in the U.S. and a mutually beneficial working relationship between German automakers and IG Metall, the German equivalent to the United Auto Workers union in the States. In short, German automakers are paying Americans less because they can.

There's an entire three-page article with commentary from industry insiders and other experts on the matter, and we suggest you read it for all the details on the great wage disparity that makes the U.S. a low-cost country for German automakers operating outside their home borders.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 137 Comments
      peter.nukken
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hi, just two comments: 1. We pay about 40% taxes, which means we get much less than what is mentioned in the article. 2. I have no Idea about your unions etc. But I think there are some other problems. I like american cars very much and we have a jeep wrangler. The problem is, that it is really expensive to drive an american car here (and in the rest of europe). Today the price for gas was 1,50€ per liter (8.80$ per gallon). And we pay penalty taxes for not environmental friendly cars. So I think, that the adavtages of american cars, like comfort and size, are less important in many regions of the world. My second car is actually a VW Golf, which I use to travel to work and I can go by 160km/h with 6liter diesel per 100km (jeep 16l). But most people here own just one car, so they cannot buy an american car, its too expensive for everyday use. Personally i think, if american companies want to compete globally, they have to start adapting what they produce to what is actually needed. Regrads from cologne, Germany
      reattadudes
      • 3 Years Ago
      it's interesting to note the one thing not included in that German wage package is vacation time. they get an average of 6-8 weeks per year. most US workers get two weeks. it's interesting to see how many folks defend "the race to the bottom", justifying the low wages in the US. any of you want to go work for Toyota for 9 bucks an hour? would you want to buy a car assembled by untrained temporary labor making this wage? it's like the chickens voting for Colonel Sanders.
      whofan
      • 3 Years Ago
      Greed by the top executives is the problem in the US. We blame the unions for our problems. Money people will go to bed with China for increased profits union or no union. The working class just want a decient standard of living,. No union = no middle class because of greed, not union greed but greed itself.
      bauhaus
      • 3 Years Ago
      Y'all, it's all driven by German tax and monetary policy. Germany officially maintains itself as a net exporter (aggregate value of all exports > aggregate value of all imports) precisely so it can maintain high levels of domestic employment and high levels of foreign investment. Cars are only a part - this is basically true in medical equipment, foodstuffs, building supplies (I double-dog-dare you to find a granite countertop in a German house!) and many other sectors as well. Euros that German households don't spend on consumption are saved, and then loaned out by German banks to non-Germans - mostly in Greece, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Portugal, and France. (Does that list sound familiar?) The non-Germans then pay interest back to Germany, and use the borrowed dollars to buy German goods.
        brian
        • 3 Years Ago
        @bauhaus
        You make it sound like German Monetary policy is a bad thing! Wouldn't we all be better off here in the US if the rest of the world owed us money rather than the other way around?
        Frank
        • 3 Years Ago
        @bauhaus
        Ding, Ding, Ding! You sir win the gold star!!! It has nothing to do with Euros, Germany, housing, health care, liberal, conservative, democrats, GOP, Fox News, the mainstream media, etc. It's the fact that Germany is a net exporter. It's wealth, standard of living, wages, etc. are from the fact that it exports more than it imports. And their laws make sure that certain markets are protected. We could do that. But both political parties won't allow it.
          Lester
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Frank
          I guess that's why folks in the People's Republic of China are all living the high-life, right? I mean, aren't they a net exporter?
      Alex Rodriguez MacFa
      • 3 Years Ago
      Why is this any news?? Aren't the Detroit 3 doing the same in Mexico? Americans make 10 times more than their Mexican counterparts. Why? because they can! Mexican Government is so corrupt that US companies can get away with everything!
      infernalconnect
      • 3 Years Ago
      In 2010, over 5.5 million cars were produced in Germany, twice the 2.7 million built in the United States. Average compensation (a figure including wages and employer-paid benefits) for autoworkers in Germany was 48.97 Euros per hour ($67.14 US), while compensation for auto work in the United States averaged $33.77 per hour, or about half as much as in Germany, all according to 2007 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For Germany-based auto producers, the U.S. is a low-wage country.
      moderate fringe
      • 3 Years Ago
      "German automakers are paying Americans less because they can." Of course they pay Americans less because they can. You think GM pays anyone in China or Mexico American wages? They don't even pay American wages in Canada. That's the way it works. Had a little job in the 90s making 6.50 an hour, co-worker said how cool it was we were being bought out. Buyers paid 14 an hour just 100 miles away and will pay us that!!! I told him not to believe that fiction and 6.50 an hour is why this buyout was happening. This was rural area of high unemployment. 100 miles away was urban/high employment. For some reason people I know think every similar job pays the same everywhere. Also everyone thinks cost of living is the same everywhere even after they move somewhere and pay over twice as much for rent.
      rob_runkle
      • 3 Years Ago
      An analysis that looks at US vehicle manufacturing, but ignores US pickup truck sales is like analyzing rice sales in the US and Japan, ignoring white rice sales, and concluding that Americans eat more rice. Light commercial vehicle (pickups) sales in the Us versus Germany for 2010 was 4.8mil versus 200k. Nice job cherry picking the data man. Another bad analysis by a Liberal, looking to try and make a political point. No surprise. Other comments below have noted some other holes ithe analysis.
      Fannibal
      • 3 Years Ago
      i'd like to see purchasing power parity equivalents for those wages.
      Avinash Machado
      • 3 Years Ago
      Flame bait.
      Polly Prissy Pants
      • 3 Years Ago
      The saddest part of articles like this are the people who, when presented with fact after fact, stubbornly refuse to reevaluate thier position and instead cling to their original belief as if disagreement was an affront to their manhood. In the US of A, people violently defend a healthcare system that costs twice as much per capita as the next most expensive while delivering factually inferior care. They rail against the overpaid blue collar worker who just barely makes a living wage. They decry war and taxes yet spend SEVEN TIMES more on their military and invasions than the next most powerful nation on the planet. Is it basic denial? Fierce nationalism? Whatever it is, as long as it continues things will only get worse for us here in America.
        Luis
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Polly Prissy Pants
        Wow. Very well stated. The system is obviously broken and too many people seem content to feed on painfully false propaganda and ignore facts while they watch the ship go down. Corporations will suck this country dry and then simply relocate to the next one leaving behind a dried out husk. But working families can't do that. We need to defend this country's future from the short term bottom line of corporations. But instead I see a lot of people lining up to defend the rights of corporations to rape them. I keep hoping that somewhere deep down there in these folks there is an alarm going off getting louder and louder. But its almost like a mass case of battered person syndrome: they abuse me but they do it for my benefit, they abuse me but it was my fault, they abuse me but they don't really mean it, they abuse me but what else can I do. Sad.
        Renaurd
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Polly Prissy Pants
        The best comment I have ever read on autoblog, and the most factual, keep it up Polly.
      SooooRight
      • 3 Years Ago
      Autoblog is nothing but a mouthpiece for the obama admin/occupy wallstreet/radical leftist/progressive's. The article is poop and further exposes Autoblog. Nice job idiots.
        TelegramSam
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SooooRight
        At what point do leftists, become "Radical Leftists"? How are those different from progressives? Are Occupy Wall St protesters, leftists, radical leftists, or progressives? Either way, you have a hard time labeling someone as any of those things, when they are only trying to a good deal for themselves. The real takeaway from this article should be, that in Germany, the government ensures that the bargaining table, between labor and management is not skewed. (Rich) People in this country, claim that the government has no place to do this.
    • Load More Comments