• Switzerland's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Ticino job market study angers local politicians
Cross-border workers have created controversy in Ticino in recent months. Photo: AFP/File

Ticino job market study angers local politicians

Caroline Bishop · 23 Oct 2015, 11:09

Published: 23 Oct 2015 11:09 GMT+02:00

Commissioned by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and led by the Institute of Economic Research (IRE) at the University of Italian Switzerland in Lugano, the study examined the consequences of cross-border workers – or ‘frontalieri’ – on Ticino’s job market.

After publication was pushed back several times, its controversial conclusions were finally leaked to the press this week, reports newspaper Tribune de Genève.

“Nothing proves that resorting to cross-border workers has increased the risk of unemployment among the resident population – neither in Switzerland nor in Ticino,” said the study.

The topic is a sensitive one in Ticino, where more than one out of four workers live over the Italian border, a number which has doubled since 2002, reaching 62,555 in the second trimester of 2015.

Many locals feel that the high number of cross-border workers has contributed to raising unemployment and reducing salaries in the canton.

Ticino’s fairly stable unemployment rate was 3.4 percent in August, two tenths higher than the national average, while the canton also has the lowest average salary in the country.

The IRE’s study used data from the Swiss statistics office covering 95,000 workers, unemployed or inactive people during the years 2003-2013.

It also drew on a questionnaire sent to 328 businesses in the canton, the results of which indicated that the lower salaries demanded by cross-border workers comprised only a “secondary criteria” in the recruitment process. Those hired were simply more suited to the post, said the report.

The study didn’t address the canton’s weak salaries and the proliferation of casual contracts.

Local politicians have reacted in anger.

“The reality that I see every day on the ground, particularly in the course of my union activities, is completely different to that depicted in this study,” said Giorgio Fonio of the Christian Democrat Party, told the paper.

Responding to the controversy in a press release, the University of Italian Switzerland said “the methodology used in the study is based on established analysis techniques used in the most recent scientific literature”.

“Based on the data analyzed, it appears there is no statistically significant effect of immigration (both border workers and foreign residents) on the probability of local residents exiting the job market.”

The statement pointed out that while the statistics may not reflect individual cases where a local worker was replaced by a foreign worker – cases that generally garner significant media and political attention – the study couldn’t identify any general trend towards the systematic substitution of locals for foreigners.  

Though it was an initial objective, the study did not deal with the effect of immigration on wages because a federal report published earlier this year had already dealt with the subject, said the university.

Story continues below…

Commenting on criticism of the study, the director of the IRE, Rico Maggi, stood firm.

“In Ticino, we sometimes struggle to accept scientific reality,” he told the paper.

Despite the study, it’s likely the issue will continue to be a hot potato in the canton.

In 2014, Ticino raised taxes on frontalieri, and in April this year authorities imposed tougher conditions on cross-border workers including a requirement that Italian nationals supply a copy of their criminal record.

Back In February some businesses in the town of Claro started displaying a pro-Swiss badge advertising the percentage of Swiss workers they employed.

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Caroline Bishop (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swiss solar plane continues historic trip
File photo: Eugene Tanner/AFP

Solar Impulse 2, piloted by a Swiss, successfully flew out of Ohio on Wednesday en route to Pennsylvania.

Basel: Muslim schoolboys must shake hands or face fine
File photo: Broad Bean Media

Decision by Basel education authorities comes after two Muslim boys refused to shake their female teacher's hand on religious grounds.

Paternity leave backers push for public vote
File photo: AFP

Fathers in Switzerland should get four weeks statutory paternity leave, say supporters of a new popular initiative.

French strikes hit Swiss services once again
File photo: Nicolas Tucat/AFP

Expect more disruptions on train journeys to France every week into June.

10 unspoken rules for fitting in with the Swiss
Photo: Stephan Schacher/Swiss Tourism

New to Switzerland? The Local shows you how to navigate your way through the Swiss social minefield.

Swisscom fined millions for dominating sports TV
Photo: Swisscom

Switzerland's main telecomms group has been fined 71.8 million Swiss francs by the Swiss competition authorities.

Swiss injured by neo- Nazi gunman in Austria
The shooting happened in the Vorarlberg region of Austria. Photo: Roland Vlach/AFP

A 49-year-old Swiss woman was among those injured by a neo-Nazi gunman at a rock concert in Austria.

Huge blaze burns down Swiss candle factory
Photo: Schwyz cantonal police

A candle factory in Einsiedeln became a victim of its own creations on Monday afternoon when a major fire broke out.

Farms in Swiss Jura to pilot refugee integration project
Volunteers will undertake manual labour on farms in the Jura. Photo: Mark Goebel

The pilot programme will offer refugees unpaid farming work to help them integrate.

WHO slams 'policy failures' for Zika crisis
File photo: AFP

The Geneva-based World Health Organization blames a lack of mosquito control in 1970s for the current Zika outbreak.

Photo: Emmanual Dunand/AFP
Sport
Brother of Belgian bomber wins gold in Switzerland
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Photo: Gstaad Tourism
National
Snow puts end to hottest weekend of year so far
File photo: Abhishek Jacob
Lifestyle
Swiss court vetoes wedding of couple with 50-year age gap
Sponsored Article
Becoming an expat: where to start
Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
Culture
Dog day afternoon: Swiss saint meets Pope in Rome
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Business & Money
Pink diamond sold for record-breaking $31m in Geneva
File photo: Candida Performa
Lifestyle
Revealed: living in Switzerland could prolong your life
Photo: Cervo
Travel
In pictures: Switzerland’s most welcoming hotels
Photo: Aargau cantonal government
‘Beast of Rupperswil’ was local football coach
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Features
Geneva exhibition marks 200 years of Frankenstein
Photo AFP
National
Swiss basic income campaign sets Guinness world record
Photo: St Gallen police
Society
Police hunt killer of man shot dead in St Gallen street
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Society
Presumed jihadist could have Swiss nationality quashed
Photo: Zurich Zoo
Culture
Gallery: giant tortoise at Zurich Zoo is mother at 80
Photo: Caroline Bishop
Society
Swiss farmer loses appeal in row over noisy cow bells
Photo: Esparta Palmer
Health
44-year-old woman refused fertility treatment on insurance
File photo: Thomas Coex/AFP
Society
Jilted admirer shocks woman with tattoo... of her face
File photo: Flickr
Health
Swiss school eyes longer holidays for non-smoking staff
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
National
Swiss basic income vote: what you need to know
 Photo: Heinrich Plum
National
Lidl uses German mountain to promote its Swiss products
Photo: Illiz Architektur
This old Swiss army bunker is now an incredible new pool
Photo: Stephan Engler
National
Survey reveals some Swiss ‘never’ cross linguistic divide
Society
Swiss parliament snubs plan for two weeks paternity leave
File photo: Giovanni Blank
Lifestyle
Fathers should share parental leave, says commission
4,594
jobs available