Labor market policy

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Labor market policy is a sub-area of labor policy and comprises all public-sector measures that have a regulating function on the interplay of labor supply and labor demand in an economy . The use of labor market policy instruments in labor promotion law results from the political view that a free or unregulated labor market produces phenomena that are socially undesirable. In this respect, labor market policy can be explicitly the subject of a political program, such as in a social market economy , or it can also result implicitly from pragmatic action in liberal economic systems.

Forms of labor market policy

Basically, labor market policy can be divided into “passive” and “active” labor market policy. While passive labor market policy primarily focused on the material damage in the of unemployment mitigate persons concerned and their families for a certain period of time that active labor market policies aimed at unemployed people in particular non-material support for (re) integration into the labor market to give. In addition, the term “proactive” labor market policy is used when employees threatened with unemployment receive support payments to prevent unemployment in advance of becoming unemployed.

Active labor market policy

Active labor market policy means all social policy measures that aim to improve the functioning of the labor market and to increase regular employment.

In principle, active labor market policy can pursue three goals:

  1. Prophylactic measures to prevent unemployment
  2. Reducing unemployment
  3. Social balance

While 1. measures against threatened layoffs (e.g. in the form of short-time work) and 2. the creation of additional jobs is in the foreground, 3. the reintegration of "problem groups" such as long-term unemployed and young or old jobseekers is in the foreground. The goals can or do not have to coincide. In this way, a measure can achieve social equilibrium even if unemployment is simply distributed differently, i.e. displacement effects are accepted.

Participation in the social work process is part of the constitutional human dignity . In this respect, the problem of unemployment cannot be left to the market alone, nor can it be accepted as an unchangeable fate.

Active labor market policy instruments

The following instruments are available for the (re) integration of the unemployed into the work process (in particular the integration of problem groups):

  • Consulting and mediation
  • Activation and professional integration
  • Support with career choice and vocational training
  • continuing Professional Education
  • Promotion of employment
  • Employment retention benefits
  • Promotion of the participation of disabled people in working life

History of active labor market policy

The use of labor by the state to avert social unrest is as old as the problem of unemployment itself. Active labor market policy was used on a large scale in the 20th century. In particular after the great global economic crisis in the 1920s, attempts were made to counteract unemployment through large-scale ABM projects. Numerous dams and roads were built in the USA as part of the New Deal .

The government also started several ABMs in Germany and Austria . After the National Socialists came to power in 1933, large-scale employment creation projects were started almost everywhere in Germany, for example the first highways (also planned during the Weimar Republic) . The use of machines was initially prohibited in order to be able to employ as much staff as possible. However, many of those affected describe the situation on the construction sites as poor with long working hours and wages at social welfare level.

Active labor market policy since the 1960s

To the extent that unemployment increasingly solidified in the second half of the 20th century, the European governments in particular tried to place the unemployed in state-subsidized employment programs (so-called second labor market ); in Germany mainly in job creation measures. The primary aim of these programs was to bring the long-term unemployed back to work (e.g. to get them used to an eight-hour day), to show them that they are doing meaningful work and also to provide them with skills.

The latter is also aimed at qualification measures . However, especially in the new federal states, these measures often turned into pure occupational therapy, while the chances of the unemployed hardly improved.

Change of strategy in the area of ​​active labor market policy

On the basis of these experiences, politicians are trying today to combat unemployment by, on the one hand, reducing rigidities in the labor market , on the other hand, promoting the creation of new jobs through a growth policy, and thirdly, making the unemployed more obliged to seek work ( job opportunities with additional expense allowance ). The active labor market policy can be carried out more decentrally by the employment agencies , who are allocated financial resources through integration titles that they can dispose of independently.

Active labor market policy is now primarily only considered important for the integration of special groups of people. For example, in the further training of unemployed people with no or little demanded qualifications or for the long-term unemployed and the elderly. Mainly wage subsidies should make integration possible there. A well-known example is the Hamburg model for the integration of the long-term unemployed.

Older unemployed people who have a particularly difficult time in the labor market are treated differently depending on their age. If they have reached the age of 60 and are still receiving unemployment benefit 2, they must retire in the future, as the pension counts as income and has priority. You will then receive neither qualification measures nor support in finding work. Changes are currently being planned for recipients of unemployment benefit 1 which, in an emergency, should create a longer period of receipt of unemployment benefit 1 and at the same time a longer opportunity to take up work and thus increase social security. The CDU and SPD have slightly different models for this.

After the possibility was created on January 1, 2004 in Section 1, Paragraph 3 of SGB III that the Federal Government and the Federal Employment Agency can now agree employment policy targets , this led to a reduction in the demand for state labor market policy. For example, entitlements in the area of active employment promotion were converted into discretionary benefits, and the entitlement to unemployment benefits was canceled on December 31, 2004.

Passive labor market policy

The “passive” labor market policy regulates the compensatory benefits for loss of income due to unemployment . The "active" labor market policy - which differentiates according to social groups, regions, companies or industries - includes measures to influence the relationships between supply and demand on and between supra and internal labor markets. Labor market policy in the broader sense is geared towards controlling the labor supply and the demand for labor as well as the relationship between the two variables on a macroeconomic basis, i.e. without specific differentiation e.g. B. by company, industry or region.

Instruments of passive labor market policy

  • Wage replacement benefits in the event of short- and medium-term unemployment (in Germany unemployment benefit )
  • Support for livelihood in the event of long-term unemployment or lack of entitlement to wage replacement benefits (in Germany, unemployment benefit II )
  • Insolvency payment as a wage replacement benefit in the event of loss of earnings due to the insolvency of the employer
  • Payment of short-time working allowance as a wage replacement benefit for loss of income in the event of a temporary reduction in working hours ordered by the employer (e.g. if the order situation is poor)

International comparison

Germany: Legal foundations, institutions and actors

For Germany defined § 3 para. 3 SGB III , the active employment promotion as all services of employment promotion with the exception of unemployment benefits and unemployment benefits during unemployment , partial unemployment benefits and insolvency payments . This includes all measures that the Federal Employment Agency or municipalities undertake to get people back into work, e.g. B. Advice and placement, activation and professional integration, further training measures (FbW) etc.

Switzerland: moderate regulation

In addition to some socio-politically motivated measures, Swiss labor market policy traditionally places just as much emphasis on flexible regulations. For example, there are low dismissal protection barriers compared to Germany . However , there are collective labor agreements between many employers 'and workers' associations , which can be declared binding for the entire respective industry by a resolution of the Federal Council. A statutory minimum wage , however, only exists in the canton of Neuchâtel.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Martin Kröger, Ulrich van Suntum: With an active labor market policy out of the employment misery? 1999, p. 9.
  2. ^ Raimund Waltermann: Social law. 7th edition. 2008, pp. 189f, 194.


  • Sven Rahner: Architects of work: positions, designs, controversies. : edition Körber Foundation, Hamburg 2014, ISBN 978-3-89684-156-8 .
  • Gerhard Bäcker u. a .: Social policy and social situation in Germany. Volume 1: Basics, Work, Income and Financing. 4th edition. VS-Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2008.
  • Matthias Knuth, Achim Vanselow: Beyond the social plan - new employment prospects with downsizing. Expertise of the Institute for Work and Technology. (Series of publications by the Senate Department for Labor and Women. Volume 17). Berlin 1995.
  • Hans-Walter Schmuhl: Labor market policy and labor administration in Germany 1871–2002 - Between welfare, sovereignty and market. (Contributions to labor market and occupational research. 270). Institute for labor market and occupational research of the Federal Employment Service, Nuremberg 2003.
  • Martin Kröger, Ulrich van Suntum: With an active labor market policy out of the employment misery? Bertelsmann Stiftung publishing house, Gütersloh 1999.

Web links

Wiktionary: labor market policy  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations