This study on behalf of the Bertelsmann Foundation examines the development of the employment of low-skilled people in eastern and western Germany over time with regard to the criteria of level and type of employment, remuneration and occupations held as well as other variables. The authors monitor the situation of low-skilled people over time and trace the typical patterns in their working lives since the 1980s in a cross-section analysis. In addition, the study provides a corresponding analysis of individual employment histories using the method of sequence analysis. The role of labor market institutions and the welfare state is examined more closely in an international comparison. Against this background the study develops a number of policy recommendations.