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How real wages in Switzerland are set to increase for the first time in three years

Workers in Switzerland are among the highest-paid in the world and next year their wages will continue to rise.

How real wages in Switzerland are set to increase for the first time in three years
FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Workers in Switzerland are among the highest-paid in the world, even though their salaries have stagnated since 2016. But next year their wages will rise by an average of 1.1 percent.

This is the finding of research conducted by Lohntendenzen.ch, a portal that examines salary trends in Switzerland, NZZ am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday.

After accounting for the 0.2 inflation predicted by Swiss National Bank, there will still be a 0.9 percent rise in real wages.

“The companies increasingly involve their employees in the success of recent years”, said Andreas Kühn, author of the wage study.

Due to the economic upturn, corporate profits have risen sharply and the 20 largest Swiss companies have distributed record dividends of 40 billion francs to their shareholders this year, he said. The low unemployment rate of 2.1 percent also drives higher wages.

People working in information technology, the pharmaceutical industry, and bank and insurance sectors will have the biggest salary hikes, researchers found.

Even before the announced raise, Swiss employees were among the best paid in Europe. According to international consultancy firm Willis Towers Watson, wages across Europe vary widely, but Switzerland leads with just over 96,000 francs annually, followed by Denmark (63, 021), and Norway (59,713).

Out of 18 countries surveyed, Portuguese and Greek workers fared the worst, with average yearly salaries of 22,630 and 25,132, respectively.
 

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ZURICH

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 

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