By the end of the year figures show that 304,117 foreigners were working in Switzerland but living over the border, a rise of 3.7 percent compared with the same period the previous year.
The biggest rises were seen in central Switzerland (11.8 percent), Zurich (7.4 percent) and the Lake Geneva region, which rose 6.3 percent to 112,505.
Across Switzerland French ‘frontaliers’ constituted the largest increase by nationality, up five percent on the previous year to 164,893, followed by German cross-border workers, up 4.2 percent to 59,781.
Only Ticino saw a drop in cross-border workers, by 0.9 percent to 62,477, something that will please many in the canton.
In recent years the number of ‘frontalieri’ in Ticino, mainly Italians, has risen sharply, with now more than a quarter of its labour force living over the Italian border.
Many locals feel that the situation had contributed to raising unemployment and lowering salaries for Swiss workers in the canton.
In 2014, Ticino raised taxes on frontalieri, and in April 2015 authorities imposed tougher conditions on cross-border workers including a requirement that Italian nationals supply a copy of their criminal record.
The current small decrease in cross-border workers in the canton can be explained by the Ticino government’s “policy of awareness”, Stefano Rizzi of the canton’s department of economy and finance told news agency ATS.
Businesses are now encouraged to employ native workers, especially young people and the unemployed, he said.
However in October last year a study by the University of Lugano found that cross-border workers had no detrimental effect on Ticino’s job market, a conclusion that angered many.
“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.