'Unprecedented crisis': New figures show stark impact of pandemic on all Swiss job sectors

Helena Bachmann in Geneva
Helena Bachmann in Geneva - [email protected] • 4 Mar, 2021 Updated Thu 4 Mar 2021 12:57 CEST
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This picture taken on November 25, 2020 shows the Ibex building construction site in Visp where drugmaker Lonza will soon produce the main ingredient of US biotech firm Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

The pandemic-related economic slump has significantly increased the number of job seekers in Switzerland. Which sectors are most in demand?

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, the number of job seekers has soared, according to an analysis by Swiss public broadcaster RTS. 

"It is an unprecedented crisis, especially because of the speed of its arrival and the paralysis of the economy from one day to another," said Charles de Reyff, head of the public employment service in the canton of Fribourg.

Three sectors had recorded the highest unemployment: hotels and restaurants, construction, and transport.

READ MORE: Jobs in Switzerland: Which sectors have been hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic? 

While jobs were in demand across all industries, the highest demand was in the restaurant and hotel sector, where 70 percent more people looked for jobs in the fall of 2020 than in the same period in 2019.

Next is the construction sector, with 53 percent more job seekers than the previous year.

Manufacturing, transport and technical branches recorded 47, 46 and 43 percent more demand, respectively.

Other areas where more people sought employment than before the pandemic include public administration (33 percent) and finance and insurance (25 percent).

However, “figures from the regional employment offices indicate that all the sectors were durably affected” RTS said.

One notable exception: in gambling and gambling organisations the number of job seekers has dropped slightly.

Pandemic clearly to blame

This general growth in the number of job seekers can be explained by the effects of the pandemic.

"In the spring there was a hiring freeze and almost immediate dismissals of people on probation to limit the damage," de Reyff noted.

As a result, many fixed-term contracts were not renewed.

RTS also found that most job-seekers were young. Compared to 2019, there were 70 percent more 20-24 year olds looking for employment in 2020 than in the previous year. Among 45-59 year olds, the increase was around 30 percent.

“Young people have suffered the greatest repercussions because they often arrive on the labour market without experience ", according to Giovanni Ferro-Luzzi, economics professor at the University of Geneva.  

De Reyff said that the youngest are often the first to be made redundant in the event of a crisis, but also often the first to be rehired, which gives him hope that they will quickly find a job when economy recovers.

This may be the case this year, as economists predict a more positive outlook for the Swiss economy than was thought in previous months.

The situation in the construction sector is improving, and  the manufacturing sector, in particular the paper, chemical and electrical industries are “more optimistic than before”.

READ MORE: Why Switzerland’s economy is on the up despite the coronavirus pandemic 




Helena Bachmann in Geneva 2021/03/04 12:57

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