FRANKFURT -- Germany's electrical and electronics industry recorded sales of €178.2 billion in 2015, up 3.5% from the previous year.

It was the highest mark since 2011 and the third straight year of growth for the sector.

About 78% of production was for industrial goods, such as automation, energy technology and medical engineering. Another 12% was for intermediate goods (semiconductors), and 10% consumer goods (household appliances, consumer electronics, lighting). One-third of sales came from new products, the ZVEI trade group said.

The sector employs 851,000 workers in Germany, including 180,000 engineers and 89,000 R&D specialists. An additional 704,000 workers are employed abroad.

As a whole, the sector spent €6.4 billion on investments, up 11% from 2015. Research and development spending rose 3% to €15.5 billion. Innovation expenditures ticked up 1% to €23.6 billion. The industry filed for 13,000 patent applications.

Electronics make up about 3% of Germany's gross domestic product. And while 2015 was a banner year for the German electronics market, 2016 will be even better: Revenue through nine months has already beaten last year's 12-month totals.

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