Volume of work

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In the context of national accounts, work volume is understood to mean the total number of hours actually worked by employees and self-employed or helping family members in activities within the production limits ; in business administration, the volume of goods or services produced by the workforce during working hours .


In accordance with the standards established by the International Labor Organization (10th International Conference of Labor Statisticians, October 1962), the volume of work includes:

  • the hours actually worked during normal working hours;
  • the additional hours worked outside of normal working hours and usually paid at a higher rate than the normal rate ( overtime );
  • the time at the workplace certain tasks , as the preparation of the workplace, repairs and maintenance, preparation and cleaning of tools and out of receipts, invoices, time worked and production of reports dedicated to ( work preparation );
  • the workplace with waiting or as part of call time spent downtime for example because of occasional lack of work, breakdown of machinery or accidents, or at work spent time during which no work, but under a guaranteed employment contract is paid;
  • the time of short breaks at work, including breaks from work to take refreshments.

However, the work volume does not include:

  • the hours paid but not worked, such as paid annual leave , paid public holidays , paid sick leave;
  • the breaks for eating meals ( lunch break );
  • the time taken to travel from home to work and back, even if paid (construction workers). However, if the trips are organized within normal working hours, this time is counted as part of the work volume.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, the volume of work also includes the hours worked by family workers.

It is ambiguous to speak of a per capita volume of work, however, as it is necessary to differentiate to which group of people the volume of work relates, for example to the resident population (annual volume of work per resident) or to all employed persons (mean annual working hours per employed person ). Here, the volume of work per capita results mathematically as the product of volume of work per employee per gross employment rate .

Volume of work in individual states

In Germany , the volume of work in 2011 totaled 58 billion working hours with around 41 million employees. In 2017, almost 7 billion hours were worked in Austria . In Switzerland , the volume of work in 2017 totaled 7.86 billion working hours; this number is 2.7% higher than for 2010.

The situation in the Federal Republic of Germany

Decade comparison of gross domestic product , labor productivity and work volume
Comparison of work volume and labor force potential

The trend in the volume of work in the Federal Republic of Germany has been falling since 1960. It only rose temporarily in the boom phases . The volume of work decreases when the total economic output of a country (GDP) grows more slowly than labor productivity (AP = economic output of employees per hour). This has always been the case in Germany since 1960; H. labor productivity has always grown faster than GDP in a decade comparison .

As a result of this development, the volume of work in the Federal Republic of Germany remained almost identical in 1960 and 2008 (around 57 billion hours), although the labor force potential rose from around 26 million to 44.5 million people since 1960. In return, the weekly working hours decreased .

The volume of work per employed person fell by 31 percent from 1960 to 2010, the volume of work per inhabitant by 29 percent (until 1990: West Germany; from 1991: Germany).

According to statistics from the Institute for Employment Research (IAB), the total volume of work in Germany was 60.261 billion hours in 1991, fell to 55.500 billion hours by 2005 and rose to 61.086 billion hours by 2018. The part-time quota was 17.5% in 1991 and rose almost continuously to 39.2% by 2018. The average number of hours worked per employed person (full-time and part-time employees considered together) was 1,553.5 hours in 1991, then fell almost continuously and reached a low of 1,360.4 hours in 2017; in 2018 it was 1,362.3 hours. In 2018, the volume of work was 61.1 billion hours, with 44.8 million employed.

Graphic: Volume of work, employed persons and employees in Germany 1991–2018

Graphic: Volume of work, persons employed and employed in Germany 1991–2018 - Source: Institute for Employment Research (IAB).
- red: volume of work (in million hours).
- purple: employed persons (in thousands).
- green: employees (in thousands).

International comparison

Country comparison 2000/1970 I.
Country comparison 2000/1970 II

Within the OECD there is only one national economy, the Federal Republic of Germany, which had a declining volume of work in all decades from 1970 to 2000. Within the OECD there is only one economy, the United States of America, which had an increasing volume of work in all decades from 1970 to 2000. In all other economies of the OECD, rising and falling decades of the volume of work alternate from 1970 to 2000, although a growing number of people and employees was observed in all countries.

The data available for 11 EU countries show that in the period from 1970 to 2000 in 7 countries (France, Great Britain, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Belgium and Finland) the volume of work fell (by an average of 7%); Sweden, Spain and the Netherlands saw a very small increase (approx. 4%). Only in Ireland did the volume of work increase significantly (+26%), although the number of people in employment increased by 77%. The number of employees also grew in the ten other countries (between 4% and 43%). As a result, there is a decline in the volume of work per person in employment and a fall in annual working hours - with GDP growth rates of up to four percent.


The differences in the development of the volume of work result, in addition to the different population development, primarily from the priority orientation of the respective national economy on the foreign or domestic market. The advantages of a higher increase in productivity in export are at the same time the disadvantages in the development of the work volume.

Here is a typical example from Germany:

“The manufacturing industry, with its 5.9 million employees, increased total sales by 6.5% in 2006. That still led to the layoff of 33,000 employees (-0.6% of employees). "

In the export-oriented manufacturing industry , the targeted sales successes have been achieved due to an enormous increase in productivity, without any growth in employment being generated.

See also


  • Alternative Economic Policy Working Group (2007); Memorandum, more employment needs a different distribution
  • Heinz-J. Bontrup, Lars Niggemeyer, Jörg Melz (2007) - "ArbeitFairTeilen", Attac basic text No. 27, VSA Hamburg

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Working time and volume of work in the national accounts. In: Destatis. Federal Statistical Office, accessed on April 1, 2017 .
  2. ^ Meinhard Miegel , Hybris: Die überforderte Gesellschaft , Ullstein ebooks, 2014, ISBN 978-3-8437-0767-1 . Diagrams 1 and 2 .
  3. ↑ Annual volume of work, number of persons in employment and registered unemployment 1991–2011. (PDF; 130 kB) Accessed February 17, 2013 .
  4. Hours actually worked (volume of work) according to main or secondary activity or extent of employment. Statistics Austria, accessed on August 3, 2018 .
  5. More than 7.8 billion working hours in 2017. Swiss Confederation, May 24, 2018, accessed on August 3, 2018 .
  6. The current employment optimism in a historical perspective , grundeinlösblog.blogspot.com, November 3, 2010, graphic .
  7. a b Time series with the annual figures from 1991. Institute for Employment Research (IAB), May 2019, accessed on November 10, 2019 . Table.
  8. Work volume rose to more than 61 billion hours for the first time in 2018. Institute for Employment Research (IAB), March 5, 2019, accessed on November 10, 2019 .
  9. (Press release of the Federal Statistical Office of February 16, 2007)