THORSTEN BLOSSEY, an east German trained as a draftsman, found
himself unemployed last January. He thought he could join a western
engineering firm, but then heard his skills weren't up to par. He
considered further training, but found himself competing with 120
people for 20 slots. For five months, says the 26-year-old, he
"jobbed around" in Berlin.
In June, he was hired under Germany's job-creation program and
now works in Potsdam's office of historic preservation. The former
capital of Prussia, Potsdam is rich in architecture but badly
decayed. Mr. Blossey says he "feels great" in his new job, in which
he photographs, sketches, and then removes architectural detail
from buildings for restoration.
Under the communists, Potsdam employed three people to oversee
the city's world-renowned historic treasures. Now there are 30,
half of whom owe their jobs to Germany's job-creation program.
Government-sponsored jobs now account for about 23 percent of
all new jobs in east Germany. According to labor specialists, these
jobs are having an impact on unemployment, which began to stabilize
An American-style "New Deal," in which the government creates
jobs by sponsoring major public works programs, was not what Bonn
had in mind when it undertook the integration of the East and West
German economies. The government assumed private investors would
rush east, snap up bargains, build new factories, and solve the
unemployment problem on their own.
But the private sector got off to a slow start. The economy in
the east was more decrepit than estimated. No one knew who had
title to land, so no one bought property. No one wanted
responsibility for environmental clean-up of old factory sites, so
no one invested. Last winter, Bonn was forced to fund job-creation
The programs wobbled at first. Many east Germans were unaware
they qualified for these government-sponsored jobs, and local
administrators were unprepared to advise them. But by September,
east Germany had created and filled the 280,000 job slots budgeted
at $3 billion for this year. Germany's Federal Employment Office is
now scrambling to fund an extra 120,000 jobs by year's end, and is
requiring the east German states to chip in for wages instead of
depending solely on the federal government.
Regine Hildebrandt, labor minister for the east German state of
Brandenburg, says that the job-creation measures are beginning to
slow unemployment. …