German Economy after the Pandemic: Analysis of 16 German States

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all 16 of the German states' economies in different ways. In light of the shift to remote work, many chose to trade city life for a rural retreat. Are there any states or industries that have been more or less affected by the pandemic? How were the former East German states affected in terms of GDP compared to the former West German states? This insights page aims to analyse the state of affairs in each of the 16 German states.

Our analysis is based on data available through HitHorizons Financial Reports, which aggregate companies’ reported financials, credit checks, organizational structure, contact details, and more.

Links to individual parts of the analysis:

  1. GDP Per Capita
  2. Employees per Industry
  3. Startups Founded
  4. Startups by Industry

Using HitHorizons’ own database as a primary source, as well as Destatis data, this insights page pays particular attention to startups, employment changes since the pandemic, and changes in GDP per capita. HitHorizons analysed the state of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing, Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate, Mining, Public Sector, Electric, Gas and Sanitary Services, Services, Hotels and Restaurants, Trade and Transportation and Information and Communication in each of the 16 federal states. HitHorizons also researched the startups founded by industry, such as in E-commerce, Energy, Industry, Mobility and Food. Finally, the change in GDP per capita on a year-on-year basis of each state was also analysed —continue reading to find out more.

From Hamburg to Saxony, from e-commerce to construction, check out the tables below to find out more about the post-pandemic German economy. These insights may be informative to those who are thinking of relocating out of cities, changing careers, and looking for a fresh start.

1. GDP Per Capita

Former East German states (Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Berlin, Sachsen-Anhalt, Sachsen) were the least affected by the pandemic in regards to GDP. Brandenburg for example, only recorded a -1.15% change on a year-on-year basis. Former West German states were the most affected (Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Hamburg, Saarland, Bremen). Bremen was worst affected out of all of the states, with a -5.42% change per capita.

GDP per Capita in German States between 2019 and 2020

State 2019 2020
Bremen -5.42% € 49,389 € 46,712
Saarland -5.00% € 36,396 € 34,576
Hamburg -4.42% € 67,649 € 64,661
Hesse -4.28% € 47,412 € 45,383
Baden-Württemberg -4.17% € 47,668 € 45,680
Bavaria -4.09% € 49,293 € 47,278
Lower Saxony -3.51% € 39,091 € 37,718
Rhineland-Palatinate -3.05% € 36,436 € 35,326
North Rhine-Westphalia -2.84% € 40,617 € 39,464
Thuringia -2.82% € 30,124 € 29,275
Saxony -2.61% € 32,177 € 31,338
Saxony-Anhalt -2.28% € 29,697 € 29,020
Schleswig-Holstein -1.50% € 34,620 € 34,101
Berlin -1.41% € 43,518 € 42,906
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania -1.36% € 29,523 € 29,122
Brandenburg -1.15% € 30,268 € 29,919

2. Employees per Industry

These tables reveal the employees per industry per 100,000 inhabitants of each state. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is the nationwide capital of agriculture, forestry and fishing industries, with more employees per 100,000 than any other state. Sachsen is Germany’s capital for construction, with 3,062 construction workers per 100,000 people. The nation's capital, Berlin, ranks first in terms of public sector jobs. Bremen is a hub for Electric, Gas and Sanitary Services.


Hamburg is Germany’s service industry powerhouse, ranking at the top of five categories: Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate and Services. Hamburg has also seen a boom in Trade and Transportation, Hotels and Restaurants and Information and Communication. How else did Hamburg fare in the rest of the report? Keep on reading.

Bar chart visualisation of Employees per Industry in the German States (per 100 000 inhabitants of each state)

Created with Highcharts 10.1.061,23061,23060,37060,37052,18152,18150,24850,24850,03150,03148,29448,29445,13045,13045,04445,04444,75244,75244,00744,00743,72743,72740,54740,54740,49840,49838,96738,96738,96138,96136,20636,206Public SectorTrade and TransportationServicesManufacturingConstructionHotels and RestaurantsFinance, Insurance, and Real EstateInformation and CommunicationElectric, Gas and Sanitary ServicesAgriculture, Forestry, and FishingMining

Treemap visualisation of Employees per Industry in the German States (per 100 000 inhabitants of each state)

3. Startups Founded


With more startups per capita than any other state, Berliners are the most entrepreneurial people in Germany, with a remarkable 681 new startups founded in 2020, making 18.9 new startups per capita.

Startups per Capita Founded in German States in 2020

Created with HighchartsürttembergHesseNorth Rhine-WestphaliaBrandenburgSaarlandSaxonySchleswig-HolsteinRhineland-PalatinateLower SaxonyThuringiaMecklenburg-Western PomeraniaSaxony-Anhalt

Bavaria is another epicentre for new German business, with the biggest year-on-year increase in startups founded, with an absolute change of 91 when comparing 2019 to 2020.


In a post-pandemic shift there has been a startup boom in the rural state of Thuringen. Thuringen boasts Germany’s biggest percentage increase in new startups year-on-year, with a 156% increase. Most notably of these was an increase in startups in the food and manufacturing industries.

Startups Founded in German States between 2019 and 2020

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4. Startups by Industry


Brandenberg has benefitted from the shift in consumer behaviour preferring online shopping, with a spike in new e-commerce startups. There has been a 400% increase in e-commerce firms starting up in Brandenburg, reflecting the increase in online shopping due to the pandemic. There was also an increase in Mobility startups in Brandeburg, which coincides with the opening of the new Tesla Gigafactory.


Energy continues to boom in Baden-Wurtemberg as it remains the centre of green tech innovation. The southwesterly state has the highest increase in energy startups, with an increase of 250% year-on-year.


Created with Highcharts 10.1.012129913132200334422330022000000110015151010101077444444222211111100000000Startups in 2019Startups in 2020BavariaNorth Rhine-WestphaliaNorth Rhine…BerlinBaden-WürttembergBaden-Würt…SaxonyLower SaxonyHamburgSchleswig-HolsteinSchleswig-…HesseThuringiaMecklenburg-Western PomeraniaMecklenbur…BremenSaxony-AnhaltSaxony-Anh…BrandenburgRhineland-PalatinateRhineland-P…Saarland


Created with Highcharts 10.1.052523939343427272323996633116622111111001110110164644646343430302121161610105555221111110000Startups in 2019Startups in 2020BerlinNorth Rhine-WestphaliaNorth Rhine…BavariaBaden-WürttembergBaden-Würt…HamburgHesseLower SaxonySaxonyBrandenburgRhineland-PalatinateRhineland-P…Schleswig-HolsteinSchleswig-…Saxony-AnhaltSaxony-Anh…ThuringiaBremenMecklenburg-Western PomeraniaMecklenbur…Saarland


Created with Highcharts 10.1.040403030353516161515886633661144330011113362624949424231312323222277664433222222221111Startups in 2019Startups in 2020BerlinBavariaNorth Rhine-WestphaliaNorth Rhine…Baden-WürttembergBaden-Würt…HamburgHesseLower SaxonyRhineland-PalatinateRhineland-P…Schleswig-HolsteinSchleswig-…ThuringiaSaxonyBrandenburgMecklenburg-Western PomeraniaMecklenbur…SaarlandSaxony-AnhaltSaxony-Anh…Bremen


Created with Highcharts 10.1.03131313123231818886611111166221111000000223232303027272121998866664444332222221111Startups in 2019Startups in 2020BavariaBaden-WürttembergBaden-Würt…North Rhine-WestphaliaNorth Rhine…BerlinSaxonyHamburgThuringiaHesseLower SaxonyRhineland-PalatinateRhineland-P…SaarlandBrandenburgMecklenburg-Western PomeraniaMecklenbur…Schleswig-HolsteinSchleswig-…Saxony-AnhaltSaxony-Anh…Bremen


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The analysis carried out by HitHorizons on how 16 of the German States have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and focused on four components: Employees per Industry, Startups Founded, Startups founded by Industry, and GDP per Capita on a year to year basis.

GDP per Capita YoY (EUR)
 The GDP per Capita describes the economic output of each state. It is the monetary measure of market value of all goods and services. It is one of the most important factors in determining the effect of the pandemic. This was and was checked using HitHorizons alongside Statistische Amter Des Bundes und Der Lander. HitHorizons looked at 16 states from 2019 to 2020 to see the effects of the pandemic and to evaluate the change per capita.

Employees per Industry (per 100 000 inhabitants of each state)
 The number of employees per industry was taken from Hithorizons and cross-checked with data from Statistische Amter Des Bundes und Der Lander. The employee numbers are from 2020; if these were not available, then data from 2019 was used instead. By analysing per 100,000 inhabitants for each state, HitHorizons aimed to provide a more informative representation of industry, due to varying sizes of each state.

Startups Founded
 The data ‘Startups founded by Industry was taken from 2019 and 2020 comparatively and can be seen in conjunction with HitHorizons and The Startupdetector Report 2020. In looking at this, HitHorizons chose four categories: E-commerce, Food, Manufacturing and Mobility. It is important to note that not all states have startups in some of the industries and some of the percentage changes can be quite high due to the small numbers of startups in particular states.

  • Startups per capita
  • Number of startups founded (year on year increase in absolute numbers)
  • Number of startups founded (year on year in percentage terms)

Startups founded by Sectors
 The data ‘Startups founded by Industry was taken from 2019 and 2020 comparatively and can be seen in conjunction with HitHorizons and The Startupdetector Report 2020. In looking at this, HitHorizons chose four categories: E-commerce, Food, Manufacturing and Mobility. It is important to note that not all states have startups in some of the industries and some of the percentage changes can be quite high due to the small numbers of startups in particular states.

The research was carried out by ABCD Agency in June 2021.

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