What Kind of Jobs Did German Immigrants Have?

German immigrants arriving in the 1800s held a variety of jobs ranging from running small farms and bakeries to skilled labor positions such as tailors, jewelers and carpenters. Often immigrants were discriminated against by employers, and those who were able to find work were forced to work for poor wages.

One of the largest waves of German immigration to the United States came in the 1800s, and coincided with a large influx of Irish immigrants. The German immigration was driven by industrialization, high rates of unemployment in Germany and political unrest. The large influx of immigrants, who were often willing to work for lower wages than local workers, created significant animosity towards both German and Irish immigrants from workers and employers. Those German immigrants who were able to find work often relied on marketable skills learned in Germany, such as tailoring and woodworking.

A major impact that German immigrants had on the American workforce was the introduction of trade-unions. German immigrants brought the existing guild-system to America, which eventually evolved into a system of trade-unions. This in turn led to the labor-union movement of the 1880s. The ideas of German-Americans in the labour-union movement had a long-lasting impact on wages and working conditions in American industry.