Unemployed foreigners drive jobless rate higher

An increase in unemployment among foreigners drove Switzerland's overall jobless rate higher in October to 3.1 percent from three percent in the previous month, according to federal figures released on Friday.

Unemployed foreigners drive jobless rate higher
Cantons marked in red have the highest jobless rates (over four percent). Graphic: Seco

The percentage of non-Swiss unemployed in the country jumped to 5.8 percent from 5.5 percent, while the rate for Swiss citizens remained unchanged at 2.2 percent, a report from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) shows.

A total of 132,397 people were registered as unemployed by regional job centres, up by 2,432 from September, but 0.8 percent lower than in October 2013, the report said.

The number of registered job seekers increased by 4,602 to 187,715, Seco said.

Geneva continued to record the highest unemployment rate at 5.3 percent, although this was down from 5.5 percent in September.

The lowest rate was recorded in the canton of Obwalden at 0.8 percent, unchanged from the previous month.

The canton of Graubünden recorded the biggest percentage-point increase to 1.8 percent from 1.3 percent.

Unemployment in Zurich, Switzerland’s largest job market edged up to 3.3 percent from 3.2 percent.

To access the report (available in French, German and Italian), click here.

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Jobs: Why Zurich has rebounded better than other Swiss cities from Covid

The Covid pandemic hit Switzerland hard, although the country's largest city has rebounded strongly.

Jobs: Why Zurich has rebounded better than other Swiss cities from Covid

Measures imposed due to the Covid pandemic, which began in earnest in February 2020, shuttered businesses across the country and pushed many people out of work. 

When most notable Covid rules were relaxed in Switzerland in mid-February 2022, the economic recovery – highlighted by a strong job market – began in earnest in 2021. 

READ MORE: How the Swiss job market rebounded from the Covid pandemic

Nowhere was this more evident than Zurich, Switzerland’s largest and most economically powerful city. 

How did Zurich rebound from the Covid pandemic in comparison to the rest of the country?

Even though Zurich, along with other large Swiss cities like Geneva, Basel, Bern and Lausanne, have been hit hard by the pandemic from the employment perspective, Zurich’s labour market is now growing faster than in other urban centres.

One of the reasons for this upward trend is that young, well-educated foreigners are coming back.

In the first nine months of 2021, the city’s population grew significantly.

In September alone, it recorded 2,200 additional residents.

This is mainly due to people with a B residence permit, according to Klemens Rosin, methodologist at Zurich’s Statistics Office.

During the crisis, far fewer of them left the city. “This group is made up of well-educated, younger and mobile foreigners who have made a significant contribution to Zurich’s growth”, Rosin said.

Zurich’s employment market is expect to grow even further.

READ MORE: How hard is finding work in Zurich without speaking German?

That’s because in the coming years, many Zurich workers will retire — an estimated  210,000 by year 2050 — creating more job opportunities for younger employees.

In fact, according to a study commissioned by the canton in 2021, if Zurich’s economy is to continue to flourish, it will need around 1.37 million workers by mid-century.

If these vacancies will not be filled, then income, tax revenue and the financing of social security programs will be impacted.

READ MORE: Have your say: What’s the best way to find a job in Zurich

While it is difficult to predict what jobs will be most in demand in 2050 — what new technologies will emerge in the meantime — right now and in medium term, IT workers will be especially needed, experts say, because businesses will continue to to digitalise and automate.

Lower skilled jobs will also be in higher demand, including hospitality, retail and transport. 

With hundreds of thousands of vacancies to fill, people with the permission to work in Switzerland are likely to be flush with offers – particularly skilled workers with recognised qualifications. 

READ MORE: Why finding a job in Switzerland is set to become easier