The labor market in Austria

workers at office
Updated 2023-08-06 14:01

Whether you are looking for a new job or are interested in a future-oriented further education in Austria, it can be an advantage to know the most important facts about the Austrian labor market. Discover the dynamic landscape of Austria's labor market, characterized by fair working conditions, ample job opportunities, and a skilled workforce. Dive into the thriving sectors, employment options, and key trends shaping the future of work in this Central European nation.

Austria is home to major companies in industries such as banking, insurance, oil and gas, mechanical engineering, construction, and automotive. One particularly renowned Austrian company, famous worldwide, is a beverage manufacturer that holds sports teams globally. You likely already know which company we're referring to.

The service sector, which encompasses trade, services, and public administration, contributes the largest share of Austria's economic output. Within the service sector, tourism, trade, and banking dominate.

According to Statista Austria's data from the end of 2020, nearly 15% of all companies in Austria belonged to the professional and technical services sector, making it the sector with the highest number of companies. It is followed by the health and social services sector and the agricultural sector.

In terms of employment, the majority of Austrians, around 70%, work in the service sector, reflecting the significance of this industry. Additionally, you may have observed that services, in general, tend to be slightly more expensive in Austria compared to other countries. On the other hand, when comparing prices of products such as electronics, furniture, and drugstore items, Austria tends to be slightly cheaper.

Good to know: Mobile phone contracts are also very advantageous due to the great competition since the beginning of mobile telephony. Austria has long been considered a global pioneer in this sector.

Tourism and Retail in Austria

Tourism is a vital sector of the Austrian economy, encompassing approximately 70,000 businesses. Austria's favorable central location in Europe and its excellent accessibility contribute to its appeal as a tourist destination. With its abundance of ski areas, tourism in Austria is well-balanced between the summer and winter seasons. Consequently, the winter tourism industry also creates numerous opportunities for seasonal employment in Austria.

There are plenty of job opportunities available in the tourism industry that need to be filled. Whether you're interested in working as a cook or a waiter, you can find positions both in urban areas and rural settings, including holiday resorts. In Austria, where tipping is customary, working as a waiter can be financially rewarding in a short period.

If you happen to be multilingual, working at the hotel reception could be an appealing option. Additionally, there is a constant demand for employees to join the room service teams at various establishments. So, if you're considering a career in the tourism sector, there are various roles and locations to choose from, providing you with a range of exciting opportunities.

If you're a sports enthusiast, there are several opportunities you can explore in Austria's tourist areas by the lakes and mountains. You can apply to become a ski or windsurfing instructor, a tennis coach, or even work as a guide for cycling trips.

Regarding seasonal jobs, Austria experiences heavy snowfall due to its climate. A physically demanding yet highly sought-after job, which doesn't necessarily require knowledge of German, is helping with snow removal and spreading during the winter. Moreover, there is a demand for people at ski lifts and Christmas markets during this time.

Vienna, renowned for its balls and congresses, offers interesting opportunities during the winter season. You can find work on specific days, making it an ideal option to complement your studies.

Most stores in Austria close by 7 pm on weekdays and 6 pm on Saturdays, with a mandatory closure on Sundays. Exceptions are made for shops catering to urgent needs at railway stations, airports, and specific intersections, as well as small souvenir shops. The restrictions on opening hours can be surprising to visitors, but it is a subject of discussion and contemplation among locals and newcomers alike.

The limited opening hours and closures on Sundays in Austria have been a subject of dissatisfaction for some individuals, particularly those who desire the flexibility to shop in the evenings after work or on Sundays. While Austria's Catholic tradition views Sunday as a day of rest, the rationale behind the restrictions extends beyond religious customs.

The primary reason for these customer-centric opening hour policies is the protection of retail workers. By enforcing these regulations, employees are not obligated to work late evenings or weekends, ensuring their well-being and work-life balance. This aspect holds significant importance, particularly for the predominantly female workforce in the retail sector.

The debate surrounding opening hours reflects the contrasting perspectives of protecting workers' rights and interests versus catering to customer demands and economic considerations.

Who works in Austria?

Over the past decade, Austria has experienced a 10% increase in its population. This growth is primarily driven by migration, as the number of births and deaths largely balance each other out. Vienna, the capital city, is home to approximately one-fifth of the Austrian population and is known for its international character.

In 2022, nearly one million people working in Austria were employees with citizenship other than Austrian. This highlights the diverse and multicultural nature of the country, with a significant number of foreign workers contributing to the workforce. Vienna, in particular, stands out as a highly international city.

Approximately two-thirds of the resident population in Austria falls within the working age group, with about half of them actively participating in the labor market. The remaining portion consists of individuals who are still pursuing education, engaged solely in household work, and/or rely on income from capital assets.

These demographic trends and the composition of the labor force shape Austria's social and economic landscape, reflecting its openness to immigration and the importance of international influences.

Working conditions in Austria

Working conditions in Austria are generally considered to be favorable. Full-time employees typically have office hours from Monday to Friday, working 38.5 or 40 hours per week, with breaks for lunch lasting half an hour to one hour.

In response to the changes brought about by the COVID-19 crisis and the ongoing digital transformation, more companies are offering the option of working from home for at least a few days a week. This flexibility provides employees with greater work-life balance and adaptability.

Proficiency in German is often important, depending on the industry and company size. Some larger companies now offer company-sponsored German courses, which are considered working hours and can be attended voluntarily. International employees often desire to understand and communicate more effectively with their colleagues. However, in certain companies, English may be the primary language of communication. Nevertheless, acquiring basic language skills in German can be beneficial for everyday life and foster connections with colleagues. It may even provide an opportunity to converse in local dialects such as Viennese ("Wienerisch") or Tyrolean ("Tirolerisch").

Minimum wage in Austria

In Austria, there is no universal statutory minimum wage that applies to all employees. Instead, minimum wages and salaries are determined through collective agreements known as "Kollektivvertrag." These agreements are negotiated annually within specific industries and typically result in wage increases that surpass the inflation rate.

According to these collective agreements, the lower limit for wages is set at 1,500 euros gross per month, which is paid out 14 times a year. It's important to note that the specific minimum wage can vary depending on the industry and the terms negotiated in the collective agreement for each sector. These agreements ensure that workers receive fair compensation for their work and contribute to maintaining a decent standard of living.

Good to know:

You can look up all the collective agreements on this website:

Employees by industry in Austria

The largest industry in terms of employment in Austria is the goods manufacturing industry. This sector encompasses various manufacturing activities across different sectors of the economy.

In 2021, the average gross annual income in Austria was reported to be 31,407 euros. This figure represents the average gross income earned by individuals in the country for a year.

As of February 2023, the unemployment rate in Austria, as defined by the Austrian Labour Market Service (AMS), stood at 7%. This rate indicates the proportion of the labor force that is actively seeking employment but unable to find work. When comparing this rate to other European Union (EU) countries, Austria falls within the middle range in terms of unemployment levels.

These figures provide insights into the economic landscape of Austria, highlighting the significance of the goods manufacturing industry and providing a snapshot of income levels and unemployment rates within the country.

Working hours in Austria

In 2021, the average weekly working hours for employed individuals in Austria were 30.5 hours.

Austria has regulations regarding working hours to ensure the well-being and rights of employees. The "normal working time" in Austria should not exceed eight hours per day or 40 hours per week. However, some exceptions allow for longer working hours. For example, if an employee works only four days per week, they may work up to ten hours per day on those specific days. Many collective agreements establish shorter standard working hours per week and provide guidelines for working up to the 40-hour limit, including any entitlements to additional compensation.

Since 2018, employees can work up to 20 hours of overtime per week in case of increased work demand. This means that employees can work up to 12 hours per day and 60 hours per week.

It's important to note that employees have the right to refuse overtime beyond 10 hours per week or 50 hours per month without providing a reason, and they should not face any disadvantages as a result. Additionally, employees have the option to choose whether overtime beyond these limits is compensated with additional pay or time off.

Flexitime, known as "Gleitzeit," allows employees to have flexibility in determining the start and end times of their regular daily working hours within a defined time frame.

These regulations aim to provide a balance between work and personal life while also ensuring that employees' rights and well-being are protected.

Working in Austria for a foreign employer that does not have a branch in Austria

The Chamber of Labour “Arbeiterkammer” has published a leaflet on this topic in German and English, which could be important for topics such as remote work and home office regulations or cross-border work. You will find all the information about if, when and how taxes and social security have to be paid.

The skilled labor shortage in Austria

According to a survey by the Chamber of Commerce, the shortage of skilled workers is experienced particularly intensively in these sectors:

  • construction (83.5%)
  • manufacture of wooden goods (80.8%)
  • tourism (74.4%)
  • craft and technical sector as a whole

Broken down by occupational groups, Austrian companies have particular difficulties finding suitably skilled workers for craft occupations (46%), followed by technicians outside the IT sector (23%) and employees for the hospitality industry (18%).

Further information about working in Austria

If you would like to find out more about working in Austria, you should also read our articles:

If you plan to go to live and work in Vienna, please see Working in Vienna, Vienna's labor market, and The work culture in Vienna.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.