Nearly half of freelancers in Germany are struggling to find clients

Nearly half of freelancers in Germany are struggling to find clients

Freelance workers in Germany are struggling to find employment at the moment, a new survey from the Ifo Institute in Munich has revealed. The nationwide worker shortage is only adding to the problem.

47,9 percent of freelancers in Germany can’t find work

“The mood among the self-employed deteriorated at the start of the year,” the Ifo Institute’s report opened, adding that pessimism is expected to persist throughout 2024.

According to the institute’s new Business Climate Index for the Self-Employed, 47,9 percent of freelancers in Germany reported that their “order intake”, i.e. the number of clients they got, was too low in January. This figure is up from 45,3 percent in October 2023.

The Ifo analyses business climates in different German industries by asking workers or manufacturers in a particular sector to give their assessment of the current business situation and their expectations for the near future. In this edition, the institute surveyed 1.500 self-employed people, including individuals and those who worked at companies which employ fewer than nine people.

Opportunities for the self-employed are “melting away”

Announcing the survey results, Ifo spokesperson Karin Demmelhuber said, “The order books of the self-employed [were] plainly melting away and the resulting decline in sales is a cause for concern.”

In a Catch-22 Germany’s record-high worker shortage is making it harder for self-employed people to get work, with a quarter of survey respondents saying that they were having difficulties offering the services because of worker shortages in other industries. 

As well as a worker shortage, Germany is grappling with a recession. The federal republic’s economy recently overtook Japan as the third-largest in the world, but the high isn't expected to last long since the past two quarters have seen negative growth in real GDP, and the Indian economy is set to overtake both Japan and Germany to place third in the near future. “The general economic environment is increasingly unsettling for the self-employed,” Demmelhuber said.

Thumb image credit: TunedIn by Westend61 /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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