A new report by Germany’s Labour Ministry has revealed that the gap between rich and poor continues to widen in Europe’s biggest economic powerhouse.
The four-yearly poverty report shows that the number of rich people has risen sharply since 1998, adding one-tenth of the population owns 53 percent of the total wealth, while around half of all families possess just one percent.
The ministry warned, “Hourly wages that are no longer sufficient - even if someone is working full time - to feed a one-person household," and described the situation as “exacerbating the poverty risks and undermining social cohesion.”
Unions say Berlin’s reform plan in the labor market aimed at preventing the ramifications of the eurozone crisis and rise of unemployment has contributed to the widening gap between rich and poor.
Critics argue that the absence of a legal minimum wage and expansion of the low-paid job opportunities, called "mini jobs,” have put the economic pressures on the poorest in society.
The report indicates that Germany is starting to feel the pinch of the eurozone debt crisis which has severely affected the bloc since 2009.
Economists call for a redistribution of wealth through higher taxes, but the option is unlikely to be taken into consideration as Chancellor Angela Merkel is gearing up for next year's elections.
Spain, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Portugal are all in recession and all five are receiving financial assistance from European bailout funds.
The worsening debt crisis has forced EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms, which have triggered incidents of social unrest and massive protests in many European countries.