Statistics released today show that at the end of 2016 there were 5.0 million people working in Switzerland out of a population of 8.4 million, an activity rate of 58.4%, or 68.6% if those under 15 are excluded – the activity rate is the percentage of a population working full time.
Of those not working another 224,000, or 4.6% of the working population, were looking for work – based on the International Labor Organisation definition of unemployment.
Least affected by unemployment were those aged 50 to 64 (3.6%), the tertiary qualified (3.1%) and Swiss (3.3%). Those worst affected included those aged 15 to 24 (7.8%), those with no post-school qualifications (8.5%), foreigners from the EU and EFTA (6.2%), and foreigners from other countries (13.1%). Overall, 8.3% of foreigners were unemployed.
With 3.3% of Swiss out of work versus 8.3% of foreigners, some might assume that foreigners are putting in less toil than Swiss. According to activity rates this is not so. At the end of 2016 63.8% of foreigners were active compared to 56.7% of Swiss, a difference of 7.1%. The gap is even larger when those under 15 are excluded. Here the difference is 9.2%, 75.6% of foreigners versus 66.4% of Swiss.
Given that one of the main reasons for moving to another country is work, it is not surprising to find that foreigners are more active than the locals.
Longer lives combined with a static retirement age are likely to increase the difference further.
The most active Swiss region at the end of 2016 was Zurich (71.2% of 15+). The least active was Ticino (60.5% of 15+). The Lake Geneva region was in the middle (65% of 15+)