Homeless man lies in a pedestrian zone of Dortmund, Germany
Berlin - Arab Today
Poverty in Germany has risen to its highest level since reunification in 1990, with the gap between rich and poor in Europe's top economy getting wider, a study said Thursday.
Some 12.5 million people were classed as poor in 2013, up from 12.1 million a year earlier in the country of about 80 million, the report by Germany's equal welfare association said.
"Poverty in Germany has never been so high and regional fragmentation never so deep as today," said the head of the umbrella organisation, Ulrich Schneider.
Despite the country's robust export-driven economy, Schneider voiced concern that the "gap between rich and poor states in Germany is becoming bigger and bigger".
The study said the northern regions of Berlin, Bremen and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania were worst affected, while the south's Bavaria and Baden Wuerttemberg were the best off.
It used a definition based on a person's income being less than 60 percent of the average income, also taking into account household size.
The unemployed and single parents are most at risk, the study highlighted, pointing to more than 40 percent of single parents and almost 60 percent of jobless people in Germany being classed as poor.
And the study warned that the fastest increase of poverty since 2006 had been among pensioners.
Schneider bemoaned a "complete decoupling" between the rise of poverty and Germany's economic development.
Germany has shrugged off turbulence from the eurozone crisis and global tensions such as over Ukraine to continue to post overall growth in recent years and enjoys one of the eurozone's lowest unemployment rates.
The association, known in Germany as the Paritaetischer Wohlfahrtsverband, called for a raise in the basic rate of unemployment benefits as well as support programmes for the long-term unemployed and single mothers.