money For Members

EXPLAINED: The Swiss cantons with the highest (and lowest) incomes

The Local Switzerland
The Local Switzerland - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: The Swiss cantons with the highest (and lowest) incomes
A view of Zug, Switzerland, which is a magnet for the wealthy. Photo by Peter Wormstetter on Unsplash

The amount of money people earn in Switzerland has been rising over a long-term period, and the number of millionaires is growing - but there are strong regional differences, a new report has found.


Swiss salaries are known across the world for being attractive.

And a new report published on Tuesday by the Bank Cler Swiss Income Monitor and the research institute BAK Economics shines a light on how income for residents in the Alpine country has been developing over a 12 year period.

Between 2007 and 2019, the Swiss average and median income both grew significantly.


When it comes to average incomes in Switzerland, salaries rose in all years except 2012 and 2015, according to the Income Monitor. On average, the annual income of Swiss households was CHF 63,149 in 2007. By 2019, this figure had grown by 11.5 percent to an average of 70,425 francs.

But because average incomes are often distorted by individual top earners, the bank also calculated the median income in the study. According to research, this was 53,600 Swiss francs in 2019. This means that half of the incomes were above this, the other half below.

Here, too, the study shows a steady increase since 2007. At that time, the median salary was still significantly lower at 49,100 francs, meaning that during the observation period, median salaries rose by 4,500 Swiss francs (+9.2 percent in total, +0.7 percent per year). 


According to the study, those who have 70 to 150 percent of the median income at their disposal - in other words, those who earn between 35,000 and 80,000 francs a year - belong to the middle class, while those who earn below this amount are classified as belonging to a lower class, while households who earn more are said to belong to the upper class.

READ ALSO: Do wages in Switzerland make up for the high cost of living?

According to this classification, 35 percent of households in Switzerland belong to a lower class, 37 percent of households are in the middle class and 28 percent are classified as upper class.

In the 12 year comparison, moving into the middle class has become more difficult, researchers found. "Since 2007, the income threshold to the middle class in Switzerland has risen by over 9 percent," Bank Cler CEO Samuel Meyer said. 

Swiss cash.

Swiss cash. Image by cosmix from Pixabay

Where are the highest (and lowest) incomes?

According to the study, low-tax cantons such as Zug, Schwyz and Nidwalden are at the top of the income rankings. In Zug the average (not the median) income is 116,000 Swiss francs. This means that Zug has an average income about 46,300 higher than Switzerland as a whole.

In Schwyz the average income is 102,000 francs. This is the first time that another canton besides Zug has achieved an average income of more than 100,000 francs, according to the report.

According to the data, households in Zurich have an average income of 80,000 francs, while in Geneva it's 77,000 francs.

Households in the cantons of Valais (55,000 francs) and Jura (51,000 francs) earn the least on average.

Meyer said it isn't only the tax rate that explains the difference, but also the jobs available. 

In Zurich, for example, the financial sector is strong, and there are plenty of management consultancies  - two industries that are known for paying high wages. 

READ ALSO: Where in Switzerland do people have the most money to spend?

In both Valais and Jura, higher wage industries are underrepresented and economic sectors with lower incomes are relatively strong.

In the canton of Valais, for instance, almost 10 percent of employees work in the hospitality industry, while the Swiss average is just 4.5 percent.

In the canton of Jura, too, a large proportion of employment involves lower-income sectors. A total of 35 percent of employment comes from the canton's manufacturing sector. However, this also includes the pharmaceutical and watchmaking industries, two sectors that have high productivity and generally good wage levels. Looking at Switzerland as a whole, only 15 percent of all employees work in manufacturing.

The median net income is also highest in the low-tax canton of Zug, where it was calculated to be CHF 68,400 (an increase of 13.6 percent over the 12 year period).


Next in the ranking are the cantons of Basel-Country (59,900 francs, +5.3 percent) and Zurich (59,700 francs, +11.8 percent).

Ticino (44,600 francs, +0.2 percent) and Valais (42,400 francs, +10.1 percent) show the lowest median net incomes.

Spike in the number of millionaires 

According to the study, the number of millionaires in Switzerland increased by 63 percent between 2007 and 2019. However, it wasn't wages that had an effect here, but rather rising real estate and stock market values. According to the data, 6.5 percent of all households in Switzerland have assets worth a million francs or more - that's around 350,000 households in total.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, most millionaires live in the canton of Zug, where 14.2 percent of all households have over a million francs in assets. In second place is Schwyz (13.4 percent), followed by Appenzell-Innerrhoden (11.6 percent), Nidwalden (11.2 percent) and Zurich (9.5 percent).

The authors of the study looked at the net income for their survey. This is the net income from wages, pensions, capital income and alimonies, from which personal (e.g. alimonies or payments into pillar 3a) and additional deductions such as medical costs or charitable contributions are deducted.

Keep in mind that this study's focus was on the years between 2007 and 2019. Currently Switzerland's average income is even higher, at 80,000 francs.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also