Cleaner numbers decrease in Germany

26th of October 2011
Cleaner numbers decrease in Germany

Thomas Schulte-Marxloh reviews statistics revealed in Germany about the contract cleaning market – which show a significant decrease in the number of people employed.

The only statistics you can trust are those you falsified yourself." For many years Germans believed Winston Churchill shared his wisdom with us. However, after a closer look, this belief seems to be wrong as no sound evidence could be found that the famous British Premier ever said this. Nonetheless the saying reflects a deep mistrust in statistics or, let us say, at least an ambivalent attitude towards statistics.

Although some of us may guess that not all statistics are totally correct, we are also aware of our (and even worse: our computers’) frightening dependency on statistics, as statistics remain the basis for many decisions and changes – if conducted properly.

For the first time since 1995, the Federal Statistical Office has published fresh data (collected in 2008) regarding the skilled crafts: the so-called ‘Handwerkszählung’. Some of the results surprise the contract cleaning industry.

In 2008 the number of contract cleaning companies was 14,276; with 549,591 workers (including an estimated number of entrepreneurs) the con-tract cleaning industry generated a turnover of 11.4 billion euros. There were 534,796 employees working in the industry: 302,196 of them subject to social insurance contribution, 232,600 as part-time workers. The contract cleaning industry accounts for 11 per cent of all skilled craftsmen - a number reflecting how labour-intensive this industry actually is. More than 1.4 per cent of all gainful workers can be found in the contract cleaning industry.

Referring to previous publications of the Deutscher Handwerskammertag  (DHKT) -an organisation of the ZDH (German Confederation of Skil-led Crafts) there were 31,262 contract cleaning companies in Germany, all of them registered in the skilled trade register. The crafts’ census by the Federal Statistical Office, however, only counts companies with a minimum turnover of 17,500 euros, which is equal to the threshold of VAT statistics.

The BIV (German Contract Cleaning Association) believes the significantly increased number of contract cleaning companies is a consequence of the legislative change in 2004; since then the contract cleaning business is no longer liable for registration and thus, the BIV believes, many very small businesses or one-man-operations were launched.

In terms of revenue both statistical sources provide similar data; according to the VAT statistics the contract cleaning industry achieved a turnover of 11.8 billion euros (crafts’ census: 11.4 billion euros).

The most obvious difference between both statistics, how-ever, can be found in the total number of workers. The BIV acted on the assumption there were almost 900,000 people working in the industry. But the crafts’ census states 535,000 workers - about 360,000 people fewer than expected.

Why have they vanished? What has caused the significant difference in the statistics? Does the statistical method have such a decisive influence?

Anyway, the crafts’ census proves once more the con-tract cleaning industry remains an important part of German crafts and economy because – apart from the number of employees or the annual turnover and statistics – the industry provides the invaluable clean and healthy environment.


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