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Swiss unemployment lowest in 10 years

4 days ago

Switzerland’s unemployment rate, now 2.6%, hasn’t been so low for 10 years, according to the latest figures from Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).
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A weakening of the Swiss franc helped boost Switzerland’s economic growth, creating more jobs.
The unemployment rate among young workers (15-24) dropped 0.7% to 2.4% as did unemployment among the 50+ (-0.3% to 2.5%).
All of Switzerland’s French-speaking cantons saw unemployment decline, however the large difference with German-speaking Switzerland remained (3.6% vs 2.2%).
In addition, foreigners (4.7%) were more likely to be out of work than Swiss (1.9%).
It is important to note that the way SECO calculates unemployment is incomplete. It defines unemployed as those officially registered as

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Lenders pay to lend money to Switzerland

9 days ago

© Byvalet | Dreamstime.com On 28 December 2018, Italy issued government bonds maturing in 2028 at an effective interest rate of 2.7%1. Interest rates like this combined with the scale of Italian public debt (157% of GDP) mean Italian taxpayers spend more on public debt interest than they do on education. In 2015, Italy spent …

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Nestlé now Europe’s most valuable company

10 days ago

© Alexey Novikov | Dreamstime.com Volatile markets have been reshuffling the ranking of the world’s most valuable companies. Over the course of the last six months, Nestlé overtook Royal Dutch Shell to become Europe’s most valuable company. At the end of June 2018, Royal Dutch Shell had Europe’s highest market capitalisation (US$ 293 billion), making …

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Swiss Big Mac prices suggest Swiss franc still overvalued

11 days ago

On 10 January 2019, the Economist came out with its latest Big Mac index. Also known as the burger benchmark, the index compares the price of a Big Mac around the world.
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The index uses the burger to compare the relative purchasing power of different currencies. Countries where Big Macs cost less than in the United States (in US$ terms) are deemed to have weak currencies, and those where they are more expensive are considered to have overvalued currencies.
In Switzerland McDonald’s customers have to cough up CHF 6.50 (US$6.62) for the world’s most expensive Big Macs, which implies that the Swiss franc is overvalued by 20%. Last year it was 28% overvalued.
So what happened? Two things. The value of the Swiss franc and US$ moved closer together, which narrowed

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Running a Swiss business – changes in 2019

11 days ago

Nearly every year brings administrative changes for business owners and managers. The five most likely to be felt by Swiss SMEs this year are set out below.

1. Social insurance taxes
The three main ones (AVS, AI, APG) remain the same in 2019. Together they come to 10.25% of salary, of which half is deducted from the salary amount.
Unemployment insurance of 2.2%, with half deducted from salary, remains the same too.
Deductions for payments made to families have risen in some cantons so these will need to be updated. A list of rates for 2019 for each canton are available here.
Some cantons have other small salary based taxes and charges. In any case your compensation fund will update the rates and send you a bill.
2. Pensions
Compulsory salary based pension deductions change in 2019. The

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Question of the week: do we still need a standard retirement age?

11 days ago

© Rawpixelimages | Dreamstime.com Reaching the official retirement age1 is an important milestone for many people. Some look forward to it while others dread it. Some dreading it would prefer to continue working either because they enjoy their work or would like the extra income. Some feel they are being systematically and unfairly labelled too …

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Lenders pay to lend money to Switzerland

12 days ago

On 28 December 2018, Italy issued government bonds maturing in 2028 at an effective interest rate of 2.7%1. Interest rates like this combined with the scale of Italian public debt (157% of GDP) mean Italian taxpayers spend more on public debt interest than they do on education. In 2015, Italy spent 4.1% of GDP on public debt interest and only 2.8% of GDP on education.
© Byvalet | Dreamstime.com
This week, Switzerland issued bonds maturing in 2030 at an effective interest rate of -0.041%2. Negative interest rates like this mean Switzerland sometimes makes money borrowing.
Buyers of Swiss bonds are reckoning on the stability of the Swiss franc and the near certainty of repayment.
More on this:Swiss National Bank announcement (in French) – Take a 5 minute French test now
1Italian public bonds

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Nestlé now Europe’s most valuable company

12 days ago

Volatile markets have been reshuffling the ranking of the world’s most valuable companies. Over the course of the last six months, Nestlé overtook Royal Dutch Shell to become Europe’s most valuable company.
© Alexey Novikov | Dreamstime.com
At the end of June 2018, Royal Dutch Shell had Europe’s highest market capitalisation (US$ 293 billion), making it the world’s 13th most valuable company, while Nestlé ranked 21st globally, with a market capitalisation of US$ 233 billion.
Since then the ranking has changed. By 10 January 2019, Nestlé’s market capitalisation had climbed to US$ 256 billion, while Royal Dutch Shell’s had sunk to US$ 250 billion, according to Bloomberg.
However, these European giants pale in size when compared to the global heavyweights. The world’s most valuable companies

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Question of the week: do we need a standard retirement age?

13 days ago

Reaching the official retirement age1 is an important milestone for many people. Some look forward to it while others dread it.
© Rawpixelimages | Dreamstime.com
Some dreading it would prefer to continue working either because they enjoy their work or would like the extra income. Some feel they are being systematically and unfairly labelled too old to work.
A survey by the bank UBS showed that many people now don’t feel old until they’re in their 80s. A one-size-fits-all official retirement age doesn’t take account of this, exposing those unready to stop working to the risk of employment discrimination.
1 Switzerland’s official retirement age is 65 for men and 64 for women.
For more stories like this on Switzerland follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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VAT now applied to most foreign online shopping from 1 January 2019

16 days ago

© Ifeelstock | Dreamstime.com In 2016, Switzerland’s government decided to tighten the VAT exemption on imported purchases, a move that affects most online orders from foreign retailers. The new rules took effect on 1 January 2019 – they were originally planned for 1 January 2018 but systems and processes were not ready. Until the beginning …

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VAT now applied to most foreign online shopping from 1 January 2019

18 days ago

In 2016, Switzerland’s government decided to tighten the VAT exemption on imported purchases, a move that affects most online orders from foreign retailers. The new rules took effect on 1 January 2019 – they were originally planned for 1 January 2018 but systems and processes were not ready.
© Ifeelstock | Dreamstime.com
Until the beginning of this year, any order attracting less than CHF 5 francs of VAT was allowed across the border tax free. This meant CHF 64.931 of most goods and CHF 2002 of books and a few other products.
Now everything sold by a foreign business with global revenue over CHF 100,000 will need to charge Swiss VAT on orders of any value. This will affect purchases made from large online retailers like Amazon.
It isn’t all bad news however. The hefty processing charges

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Police Warn of fake Swiss Franc Notes

22 days ago

Since the beginning of December 2018 more and more counterfeit 100 Swiss franc notes have been appearing in the Swiss canton of Valais in and around Sion and Conthey.
©-Ginasanders-_-Dreamstime.com_ – Click to enlarge
The fake notes, which the local Police say can be spotted if compared to real ones, have been making their way into circulation via shopping centres, kiosks and service stations in the Sion and Conthey region.
Counterfeiting is rare in Switzerland because Swiss notes are virtually impossible to recreate.
The Police recommend comparing suspicious notes to real ones and contacting them immediately on 027 326 56 56.

Related posts: The

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Agism most frequent form of discrimination in Switzerland, according to survey

23 days ago

Growing old is something that happens to nearly all of us. However, according to a recent study close to one in three people (28%) reported age-related discrimination in Switzerland in 2017.
©-Photovs-_-Dreamstime.com_ – Click to enlarge
The rate of age discrimination (28%) is higher than sexism (22%) and racism (12%), according to Christian Maggiori, a professor focused on social work interviewed by the newspaper La Liberté.
Maggiori thinks the high incidence of agism could be partly explained by a lack laws against it in Switzerland. In addition, some blame older people for rising healthcare costs and an unaffordable pension system.
However, these are issues with the system, something that most have little control

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Police warn of fake Swiss franc notes

25 days ago

Since the beginning of December 2018 more and more counterfeit 100 Swiss franc notes have been appearing in the Swiss canton of Valais in and around Sion and Conthey.
© Ginasanders | Dreamstime.com
The fake notes, which the local Police say can be spotted if compared to real ones, have been making their way into circulation via shopping centres, kiosks and service stations in the Sion and Conthey region.
Counterfeiting is rare in Switzerland because Swiss notes are virtually impossible to recreate.
The Police recommend comparing suspicious notes to real ones and contacting them immediately on 027 326 56 56.
More on this:Police warning (in French) – Take a 5 minute French test now
For more stories like this on Switzerland follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Agism most frequent form of discrimination in Switzerland, according to survey

25 days ago

Growing old is something that happens to nearly all of us. However, according to a recent study close to one in three people (28%) reported age-related discrimination in Switzerland in 2017.
© Photovs | Dreamstime.com
The rate of age discrimination (28%) is higher than sexism (22%) and racism (12%), according to Christian Maggiori, a professor focused on social work interviewed by the newspaper La Liberté.
Maggiori thinks the high incidence of agism could be partly explained by a lack laws against it in Switzerland. In addition, some blame older people for rising healthcare costs and an unaffordable pension system.
However, these are issues with the system, something that most have little control over, except when voting. In addition, most accept the need to raise the retirement age – a

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Switzerland could see vote on laws banning age discrimination

December 22, 2018

© Vadimgozhda | Dreamstime.com Heidi Joos, the managing director of the organisation Avenir 50 plus, and others, plan to launch a referendum aimed at introducing laws against age discrimination in Switzerland. Age discrimination in recruitment is common in Switzerland. Some job search websites allow filtering by age, and job adverts sometimes specify applicants be below …

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Swiss government approves post-Brexit deal on treatment of UK and Swiss nationals

December 20, 2018

Today, The Federal Council, Switzerland’s executive, announced it has approved a deal safeguarding the rights of Swiss and UK citizens after Brexit.
© Melinda Nagy | Dreamstime.com
The agreement is part of a package of deals being worked out as part of a plan dubbed “Mind the Gap”.
Under the agreement, any UK citizen residing in Switzerland before Brexit will retain all of their existing rights for life. The same will apply to Swiss citizens living in the UK.
When the UK leaves the EU, the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU will no longer apply to the UK. The “Mind the Gap” agreement will then govern relations between the two nations.
As well as residency rights, the new agreement covers social security and the recognition of professional qualifications.
However, the

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Switzerland could see vote on laws to ban age discrimination

December 19, 2018

Heidi Joos, the managing director of the organisation Avenir 50 plus, and others, plan to launch a referendum aimed at introducing laws against age discrimination in Switzerland.
© Vadimgozhda | Dreamstime.com
Age discrimination in recruitment is common in Switzerland. Some job search websites allow filtering by age, and job adverts sometimes specify applicants be below a particular age.
The initiative aims to provide a framework for seeking legal justice in cases of age discrimination, to ban age specification in job adverts and to ban online age filters on recruitment websites.
Another problem for older workers is institutional. The amount employers must contribute to 2nd pillar contribution-based employee pensions increases with age. Workers under 35 only cost employers an additional

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Swiss Supermarkets Selling Products with no Country of Origin on Label

December 14, 2018

Even when labelled properly food labels provide precious little information on what a product might contain.
© Tero Vesalainen | Dreamstime.com
For example, a piece of farmed salmon will typically be labelled only with its country of origin, containing no information on what the fish has been fed. Contaminated fish feed can significantly push up the level of dioxins found in the fish’s fat. Mad cows disease is another example of how animal feed contaminated food.
Recently, the Fédération romande des consommateurs (FRC), a Swiss consumer association, and others, went on a label checking tour of Switzerland’s supermarkets to see how well products were labelled.
In Denner they found cured meat from the EU – there was no

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Swiss supermarkets selling products with no country of origin on label

December 13, 2018

Even when labelled properly food labels provide precious little information on what a product might contain.
© Tero Vesalainen | Dreamstime.com
For example, a piece of farmed salmon will typically be labelled only with its country of origin, containing no information on what the fish has been fed. Contaminated fish feed can significantly push up the level of dioxins found in the fish’s fat. Mad cows disease is another example of how animal feed contaminated food.
Recently, the Fédération romande des consommateurs (FRC), a Swiss consumer association, and others, went on a label checking tour of Switzerland’s supermarkets to see how well products were labelled.
In Denner they found cured meat from the EU – there was no mention of which of the EU’s 28 nations it came from – and in Coop they

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Swiss health insurance deductibles to be locked in for 3 years

December 12, 2018

One way to reduce the cost of compulsory Swiss health insurance is to choose a high deductible. Currently, some people do this and then postpone treatment until they’ve switched to a lower deductible the following year.
© Gregory Alekhin. | Dreamstime.com
Recently, Switzerland’s parliament voted 113 against 60 in favour of locking in deductibles for three years to reduce this practice of switching deductibles from year to year. Going forward, it will be possible to switch insurers every year but not the level of deductible, which will be fixed for three years.
The change is expected to cut healthcare costs by CHF 5 million.
Those in favour of the change argue that it will encourage people to think twice before going to hospital with minor ailments, and reduce the incentive to game the

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When a discount is not a discount

December 7, 2018

When shoppers see a discount they typically assume the original price is correct. However, this is not always the case, as some hidden price labels have revealed.
This week Ochsner, one of the Swiss retailers caught with suspect price discount labels, was fined CHF 4,000, according to the newspaper 20 minutes.

Tandis que Manor dément avoir voulu tromper ses clients, Ochsner a été condamné à une amende minime pour sa pratique à large échelle des faux soldes. https://t.co/TWxaxJ6m9P
— 20 minutes (@20minutesOnline) December 1, 2018

Robin Eymann, from the consumer organisation Fédération romande des consommateurs, said the small fine was another scandal on top of the deceptive labelling scandal.
Another retailer, Manor, denies it tried to mislead shopper and claims their labelling was an

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Swiss offers fondue on flights from Geneva

December 6, 2018

On 1 December 2018, Switzerland’s flag carrier started offering cheese fondue on flights out of Geneva.
© Margouillat | Dreamstime.com
The dish is a new addition to the airline’s Swiss Saveurs menu, which was launched six months earlier.
The pre-heated, specially packaged fondue, which is 50% Vacherin Fribourg and 50% Gruyère cheese, is available on Swiss flights from Geneva to Malaga, Athens, Stockholm, Moscow, Gothenburg, Hurghada, Lisbon, St Petersburg and Marrakesh.
The 200 gram portion of melted cheese, which is also served in economy class, is priced at 17 Swiss francs.
The airline has not announced plans for a cheese-free seating section, which could make life difficult for passengers hoping to avoid the dish’s trademark odor.
More on this:Swiss press release (in English)
For more

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No Relief for Swiss Renters as Mortgage Rates Barely Move

December 5, 2018

Every three months the rate of interest used to set Swiss rents is reviewed. If it goes down some renters have the right to request a decrease in rent. This time it remained at 1.50%.
©-Sergei-Razvodovskij-_-Dreamstime.com_ – Click to enlarge
The last time it dropped was 2 June 2017 when it fell to 1.5%, its lowest level since 2008.
The rate is based on the average Swiss mortgage rate over three months. This rate is then rounded to the nearest 0.25%. On 30 September 2018 that rate was 1.47%, which rounds to 1.5%. The underlying mortgage rate has declined every quarter since 30 September 2008 when it was 3.45%. On 30 June 2018 it was 1.49%.
In general if your rental contract links your rent to mortgage interest rates

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Inflation outstrips Swiss salary increases

December 4, 2018

© Convisum | Dreamstime.com The latest figures show that Swiss salaries have not kept up with inflation. An average Swiss salary rose 0.4% in 2017, compared to inflation of 0.5%. This left the average salary earner 0.1% worse off in real terms over the year. The figures were the same for both the secondary and …

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Inflation outstrips Swiss salary increases

December 4, 2018

The latest figures show that Swiss salaries have not kept up with inflation. An average Swiss salary rose 0.4% in 2017, compared to inflation of 0.5%. This left the average salary earner 0.1% worse off in real terms over the year.
© Convisum | Dreamstime.com
The figures were the same for both the secondary and tertiary sectors.
The rise in 2017 (+0.4%) was the same as 2016 (+0.4%) but less than 2015 (+0.5%) and 2014 (+0.9%). Average annual salary increases in Switzerland have been below 1% since 2010.
The 2017 average hides a wide range of salary movements from +1.3% to -0.3%. Jobs with the greatest salary rises include paper and printing (+1.3%), telecommunications (+1.2%) and IT services (+0.8%). Those at the bottom end include public administration (+0.1%), metal work (-0.2%) and rubber

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No relief for Swiss renters as mortgage rates barely move

December 3, 2018

Every three months the rate of interest used to set Swiss rents is reviewed. If it goes down some renters have the right to request a decrease in rent. This time it remained at 1.50%.
© Sergei Razvodovskij | Dreamstime.com
The last time it dropped was 2 June 2017 when it fell to 1.5%, its lowest level since 2008.
The rate is based on the average Swiss mortgage rate over three months. This rate is then rounded to the nearest 0.25%. On 30 September 2018 that rate was 1.47%, which rounds to 1.5%. The underlying mortgage rate has declined every quarter since 30 September 2008 when it was 3.45%. On 30 June 2018 it was 1.49%.
In general if your rental contract links your rent to mortgage interest rates then you can demand a decrease in rent when this reference rate declines. The Swiss

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Climate Change Contributes to Surprise Fall in Swiss GDP

December 3, 2018

Third quarter Swiss GDP figures released yesterday show Switzerland’s economy shrank compared to the quarter before.
©-Tobias-Arhelger-_-Dreamstime.com_ – Click to enlarge
GDP for the quarter to September was down by 0.2% compared to the quarter before, ending an 18-month run of quarterly growth.
The fall in Swiss GDP follows a quarterly slowdown across the rest of Europe, in Germany in particular. A fall in the output of Germany’s automotive sector has had a knock on effect in Switzerland. Swiss manufacturing output, which includes industries reliant on automotive, was down by 0.6% in the third quarter.
Another sector feeling the pinch was energy1, which fell by 2.2% in the third quarter compared to the quarter

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Climate change contributes to surprise fall in Swiss GDP

November 30, 2018

Third quarter Swiss GDP figures released yesterday show Switzerland’s economy shrank compared to the quarter before.
© Tobias Arhelger | Dreamstime.com
GDP for the quarter to September was down by 0.2% compared to the quarter before, ending an 18-month run of quarterly growth.
The fall in Swiss GDP follows a quarterly slowdown across the rest of Europe, in Germany in particular. A fall in the output of Germany’s automotive sector has had a knock on effect in Switzerland. Swiss manufacturing output, which includes industries reliant on automotive, was down by 0.6% in the third quarter.
Another sector feeling the pinch was energy1, which fell by 2.2% in the third quarter compared to the quarter before. A dry summer cut hydroelectric power generation.
Swiss Meteo expects summer heatwaves like

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