German real wages to fall in 2013 for first time in 4-years

Window cleaners work at an office building at Berlin's Kurfuerstendamm shopping mall March 15, 2012. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz

BERLIN (Reuters) - Real wages in Germany are likely to fall this year for the first time since the height of the financial crisis in 2009, the Federal Statistics Office said on Thursday, basing its prediction on data for the first nine months.

The decline could dampen hopes that domestic consumption will boost Europe's biggest economy in the coming months as the traditionally export-driven powerhouse suffers from fragile demand from the euro zone and a slowdown in emerging markets.

The statistics office said after inflation, wages were down 0.3 percent in the third quarter compared to the same period last year, the sharpest fall in four years.

"The results of the first three quarters point to a small decrease in real wages for 2013," it said, with nominal wages up 1.4 percent and consumer prices 1.6 percent higher.

In 2012, real wages rose by 0.5 percent.

In the third quarter, a full-time worker earned 3,462 euros before tax per month on average, excluding special payments.

Many economists say moderate inflation, robust wage hikes and low interest rates will help domestic consumption. They say the impact of a minimum wage, which Chancellor Angela Merkel's new right-left coalition has promised to introduce, will take years to feed through.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers and Rene Wagner; editing by Erik Kirschbaum and Elizabeth Piper)

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