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Swiss unemployment falls in April

9 days ago

According to data from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), 106,957 people were registered as unemployed at the end of April 2024, 1,636 (-1.5%) fewer than in the previous month, taking the rate from 2.4% to 2.3%. However, unemployment remained higher (+0.3 percentage points) than it was at the same time in 2023.

Photo by Tim Gouw on Pexels.comAt the end of April 2024, youth unemployment (2.0%) and unemployment among those aged 50-64 (2.2%) were lower than the average (2.3%). The worst affected age group was those aged 25-49 (2.6%).

People in French- and Italian-speaking Switzerland were worse affected (3.3%) than German-speakers (2.0%), men (2.4%) were worse off than women (2.2%) and foreigners (4.4%) were harder hit than Swiss nationals (1.5%). Unemployment is a

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Bumper season for Swiss mountain lift companies

9 days ago

The recent winter season was positive for Switzerland’s mountain resort lift operators. However, the picture was mixed with low altitude resorts missing out on much of the joy, reported Switzerland’s mountain lift association this week.

By the end of April 2024, the number of first-time visitors to Swiss ski areas overall was up 3% compared to the previous year, and up by 5% compared to the 5-year average.

Early snow in November and December combined with late snow in April extended the season at both ends, especially at altitude.

Early snow at low altitude in November and excellent weather conditions over Christmas, New Year and January ensured an excellent start to the season nearly everywhere. Warm temperatures in February and March were a challenge, especially for

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Migration between Swiss cantons – gainers and losers

16 days ago

The population is growing exceptionally fast in Switzerland. The nation draws many migrants from the EU and takes in proportionally high numbers of refugees. Over the last 20 years, the nation’s population has risen by 20%, far more than in France (10%), Austria (12%), Italy (3%) and Germany (2%) over the same period. In addition to these large inflows of people from outside, cantons with the highest growth rates have been exporting people to other cantons, according to figures published by RTS.

Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.comThe main regions with the highest population growth are the Lake Geneva region, Greater Zurich, parts of central Switzerland, and the region in and around Basel-City. The success of these regions has pushed people into more affordable (less insanely

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Commission wants to postpone pension hike funding question

16 days ago

After the successful vote to raise Swiss state pensions by one twelfth (a 13th month payment), the question of how to fund the extra CHF 4.2 billion a year required has been preoccupying many in Bern. This week, a parliamentary commission voted 13 versus 12 to postpone the question and to tackle it later during planned discussions aimed at reforming the pension system more generally, reported SRF.

© Hai Huy Ton That | Dreamstime.comMany behind the vote argued a 13th month pension payment could easily be funded. However, those trying to balance the books in Bern are scratching their heads. Switzerland’s federal budget is in the red and forecast to stay there for several years without new spending cuts or tax increases. In addition, despite current receipts exceeding outgoings,

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Swiss house prices fall in the first quarter of 2024

16 days ago

After increasing for three quarters in a row, residential property prices in Switzerland fell during the first quarter of 2024, according to data from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO).

Photo by Louis on Pexels.comThe Swiss residential property price index (IMPI) fell by 1.0% in the period from January to March 2024. At the same time prices remained 1.5% higher than they were a year earlier.

The prices of both apartments (-1.3%) and single-family homes (-0.7%) contributed to the decline in the overall index compared to the previous quarter. Prices for single-family homes fell particularly significantly in large urban centres (-2.6%). In contrast, prices rose the most in smaller urban areas near large cities (+4.6%). The sharpest apartment price decline occurred in semi urban

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Inflation returns to Switzerland in April

16 days ago

Consumer prices in Switzerland increased by 0.316% in April 2024, rising 1.4% over the previous 12 months, reported Switzerland’s Federal Statistical Office (FSO) this week. However, annualised, the monthly rate comes to 3.79%, a rate well above the Swiss National Bank’s (SNB) preferred maximum of 2%.

Photo by Kampus Production on Pexels.comApril’s 0.3% monthly price increase was driven by several factors including rising prices for packaged holidays abroad (+6.7%), airfares (+3.4%) and fuel (+3.1%). In contrast, gas, wood pellets and hotels were cheaper.

Most of the monthly jump in prices came from imported goods, which accounted for 81% of monthly inflation. During April the Swiss franc was fairly stable against the euro ending the month close to where it started. However, the

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Swiss National Bank profits bounce back to record level

23 days ago

This week, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) announced a record quarterly profit for the first quarter of 2024. The result was largely predicted after the SNB made a surprise interest rate cut, which led to a weaker Swiss Franc.

Switzerland’s central bank is unusual. It is privately owned (mainly by a German citizen) but distributes much of its profit to the nation’s cantons and federal government. This feature adds to the politicisation of monetary policy in Switzerland as it increases the likelihood voters and politicians view the bank primarily as a cash generator rather than the custodian of a stable inflation.

Bumper profits of CHF 58.8 billion in the first quarter of 2024 resulted mainly from a weakening Swiss Franc. Relative to the Euro, the Swiss Franc lost around 5% of its

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Swiss health care costs continued to rise in 2022

April 19, 2024

Data published this week by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) show a 2.5% rise in spending on healthcare in Switzerland in 2022. The increase is below the average rate of 3.2% over the five years before.

© Polly In | Dreamstime.comDuring 2022, Switzerland spent CHF 91.5 billion on healthcare, which is more than CHF 10,000 per person. Between 2021 and 2022, spending rose CHF 2.2 billion.

The largest cost components were hospital costs (32.6 billion), aged care (14.5 billion) and doctors’ surgeries (13.7 billion). Together these three made up two thirds of the costs. These were also areas of above average cost increases. Hospital (+2.6%), aged care (+3.0%) and doctors’ surgery (+3.2%) spending rose by more than the average (2.5%).

The funding of these costs showed no

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Swiss parliament rejects adding dental care to basic insurance

April 19, 2024

The cost of healthcare and the compulsory insurance residents must pay to fund it continue to rise. In 2022, healthcare spending rose 2.5%. At the same time, dental care is not covered. Politicians from the Green Party would like it included in basic cover. However, parliament voted against the idea this week, reported RTS.

© Francisco Javier Zea LaraThe argument in favour of including dental care in basic insurance is that people on low incomes cannot afford the complimentary insurance that covers it or the direct cost of it. These people then avoid dental care and end up with related health issues, ranging from pneumonia to heart attacks and strokes.

However, this arguments failed to convince a majority of parliamentarians. 123 versus 62 voted against the idea.

In addition, a

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Study shows how Swiss doctors and hospitals overcharge

April 13, 2024

A new study suggests that doctors and hospitals are overcharging by more than one billion francs every year, reported SRF.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.comSome in the medical profession have questioned the sum, which came from doctoral research done by Larisa Petrov. Petrov is a lawyer and head of legal at the consulting firm Blacklight Analytics. She did the research while working as a lawyer at Helsana Insurance

The excessive charges fall into two broad categories: overpriced treatments and the systematic invoicing of services that are not provided. For some categories of treatment, such as radiology, overcharging was calculated to be as high as 10-15%.

Petrov described the potential savings as enormous. They also appear to be in specific areas. Most service providers are billing

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Health care cost brake initiative to go to a vote

April 5, 2024

This week, a government proposal presented as an alternative to a referendum aimed at limiting healthcare costs was rejected by initiative organisers. This means the question will be put to voters.

© Alexey Novikov | Dreamstime.comThe initiative, which is supported by the Centre Party, would require actors in the healthcare system to agree on cost-cutting measures if healthcare costs grow significantly faster than wages and the economy – cost growth more than 20% higher than the nominal wage rises would be the trigger point. The nature of the cuts is not specified, which would give those involved full flexibility to make cuts that made the most sense.

Before votes are presented to voters, the government has an opportunity to put forward a counter proposal, which vote organisers may

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The Swiss canton with the highest crime rate

March 30, 2024

Data published this week reveal Switzerland’s cantonal crime hotspot, a phenomenon connected to geography.

Basel Police © Neydtstock | Dreamstime.comIn 2023, after a sharp rise, the canton of Basel-City recorded the largest number of violent crimes and the highest per capita rates of theft and burglary. The rate of violent crime reached 13.2 per 1,000 residents in the city in 2023.

The number of property crimes, which includes theft and burglary rose to 21,329 in 2023, a figure 18% higher than in 2022.

The canton of Basel-City borders France and Germany. This means there are numerous points where someone can flee cross the border into a neighbouring country. An expert told SRF this makes it easy to escape after committing a crime. Basel Police cannot follow criminals across the

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One in ten Swiss worried about money at the end of the month

March 29, 2024

A study published this week by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) shows nearly 1 in 10 (9.9%) people in Switzerland has trouble making their money last until the end of the month. And, 4.9% had to go without goods, services or social activities due to a lack of money. The study is a European comparison of life satisfaction and draws on data from 2022.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.comDespite the financial challenges faced by some, Switzerland had the highest average life satisfaction rating in Europe. The average rating was 8.0 out of a maximum of 10, well above the EU average of 7.1. The lowest rating was in Bulgaria (5.6). Switzerland was also well ahead of most of its neighbours. Austria (7.9) was close. However, Italy (7.2), France (7.0) and Germany (6.5) were

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No price rises for Swiss public transport in 2025

March 29, 2024

Alliance Swisspass, an organisation that stitches together Switzerland’s various public transport providers to create tickets and passes that work across the network, announced this week that there would be no ticket price increases in 2025, reported SRF.

© Woj231 | Dreamstime.comA recent rise in the number of people using the network is bringing in more revenue. This is helping to reduce the need to raise prices, said the organisation. In addition, Alliance Swisspass said that the sector wants to temper prices to entice more people to use its services.

The last time prices rose was a shock to some. Towards the end 2023, when train timetables were adjusted, ticket prices were raised by an average of 3.7% after remaining unchanged for 7 years. In addition, there were suggestions

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Higher Swiss pensions to be funded with higher tax

March 29, 2024

On 3 March 2024, a majority of Swiss voters accepted a plan to increase the state pension by 1/12th (8.3%) – an extra 13th month of pension will be paid from 2026. Organisers of the vote claimed pension finances were in good shape, implying there was money to fund it. However, there wasn’t. This week the Federal Council presented a plan to raise taxes to pay for the increase, reported RTS.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.comSwiss state pension funding currently looks fine. There are healthy reserves and there is more money coming in than departing. However, when a forecast is done that includes the rapidly accelerating number of pensioners, the numbers look grim, even before the recent decision by voters.

The Federal Council, which is well aware of these forecasts, has to find

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Some relief on Swiss electricity bills in pipeline

March 22, 2024

When we pay electricity bills we also have to pay for the infrastructure that brings it to our homes. Part of this infrastructure is run by Swissgrid. On 20 March 2024, Swissgrid announced a cut in what it charges from 2025.

Photo by Pok Rie on Pexels.comIn 2025, a household with an annual consumption of 4,500 kWh will pay an average of CHF 77 (-16%) for the services provided by Swissgrid instead of the CHF 92 it will pay in 2024. These charges corresponds to 5% of the total bill. So a 16% drop on a 5% component will shave nearly 1% off the total bill or around CHF 15. Not much, but it is at least something.

More on this:Swissgrid article (in English)

For more stories like this on Switzerland follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Recent Swiss fire deaths prompt calls for fire detectors

March 22, 2024

Across much of Europe, smoke detectors are a legal requirement. In Switzerland, they are not. The recent death of two people in a fire in Pfaffnau in the canton of Luzern has prompted calls to change the rules, reported SRF.

© Andrey Popov | Dreamstime.comOn 19 March 2024, shortly after midnight, rescue workers were called to a burning apartment in Pfaffnau. Seven people were evacuated, three of whom were sent to hospital because of likely smoke inhalation. Two missing people were eventually located dead in the aftermath of the blaze.

The vast majority of fire deaths are caused by smoke inhalation. A few breaths of dense smoke can sometimes be fatal. Sometimes this can occur while people are sleeping. Fires rapidly consume oxygen while producing large amounts of carbon monoxide.

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Swiss National Bank surprises with interest rate cut

March 21, 2024

On 21 March 2024, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) lowered its key interest rate from 1.75% to 1.5%.

© J0hnb0y | Dreamstime.comThe move makes the SNB the first significant central bank to lower rates as inflation slows. The cut surprised many analysts and economists. The consensus expectation was for no change in the rate.

Many other central banks have left rates unchanged. On 20 March 2024, the US Fed decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 5.25% to 5.5%. And on 21 March 2024, the Bank of England decided to maintain its rate at 5.25%. 

According to a press release, the SNB said that the fight against inflation over the last 2.5 years had been effective and inflation had been below the target rate of 2% for several months. In addition, it said that cutting

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10-step guide to hiring an employee in Switzerland

March 18, 2024

Brought to you by quitt.business.  

For startups and small companies, hiring and onboarding new employees can be a real hassle. In Switzerland especially, there is a significant amount of admin to deal with. The following is a guide to all the tasks involved in this process.

© Sasa Mihajlovic | Dreamstime.comA summarised list of the administrative tasks associated with hiring a new employee are set out below:

Create an employment contract

Register for social security taxes with the compensation office

Set up a compulsory employee pension known as a 2nd pillar pension

Take out accident and supplementary insurance

Meet obligations under Swiss immigration laws

Set up salary withholding taxes (if required)

Apply for family allowances

Set up salary payments

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Over half of Swiss families struggling to make ends meet

March 15, 2024

A survey published this week by the organisation Pro Familia shows that 52% of families across Switzerland are struggling to make ends meet.

Photo by Vika Glitter on Pexels.comFor many families in Switzerland, money is tight or insufficient to cover all living expenses. The percentage finding themselves in this position rose from 47% to 52%. The rising cost of health insurance was the biggest challenge cited by most of those surveyed.

Regarding saving, 30% said they were unable to save any money and a further 37% reported managing to save CHF 500 or less a month. When questioned on how to save the state pension system families were not enamoured with any of the suggested solutions, which included higher taxes, later retirement or lower pensions. 39% viewed none of these as an

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New weight loss drugs likely to push up premiums

March 15, 2024

Since the beginning of March, Swiss health insurance companies have been covering the cost of Wegovy, a weight loss product, reported SRF.

© Oleschwander | Dreamstime.comPreviously, Ozempic, a drug also used by diabetics, was being prescribed for weight loss. Going forward, it is expected that the drugs Wegovy and Saxenda will be prescribed for weight loss instead of Ozempic. This should relieve drug shortages for diabetics – people seeking Ozempic for weight loss have made it difficult for diabetics to obtain the drug.

The large number of people in Switzerland who are severely overweight could lead to a substantial increase the cost of healthcare as these drugs are rolled out. According to Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), 11% to 13% of adults in Switzerland

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Child welfare set to be cut to help pension funding

March 8, 2024

This week, Switzerland’s parliament voted to eliminate child support payments paid to pensioners, reported SRF.

Photo by RDNE Stock project on Pexels.comIn Switzerland, parents typically receive payments for every child that is at school or in higher education up to a maximum age of 25. For most, the payments are connected with employment and funded out of the social security taxes deducted from salaries. However, if someone becomes a parent in their 40s they could end up a pensioner before their children finish their education. To ensure pensioners receive child support, payments unrelated to employment were introduced. This week, a majority in parliament decided these payment, which cost around CHF 230 million a year and are paid to roughly 24,000 parents, should be abolished.

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Church tax – should Swiss companies be forced to pay?

March 8, 2024

Individuals can opt out of church tax in most cantons. But companies rarely can, despite many having no connection with a church or a religion. The topic has been a hot political subject for a long time in Switzerland and came back under the spotlight this week when the canton of Bern discussed making it optional, reported SRF.

© Nuvisage | Dreamstime.comIn 2021, the canton of Bern collected CHF 37 million in church tax from companies, so a change in rules would be felt.

A key criticism of the current system centres on choice. If individuals have the freedom to opt out of the tax then why not companies? Only five cantons have done away with the tax: Geneva, Basel-City, Aargau, Schaffhausen and Appenzell-Ausserrhoden. Another two, Ticino and Neuchâtel, have made it optional. The

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No rise in Switzerland’s rent rate this quarter

March 1, 2024

After two increases in a row the reference interest rate used for adjusting rents remains unchanged this quarter.

Photo by Expect Best on Pexels.comAfter two rises from 1.25% to 1.75% last year, many tenants in Switzerland will be breathing a sigh of relief. Many economists forecast no increases in the rate this year.

Every quarter the rate of interest used to set the rents in Switzerland is reviewed. If it goes down some renters have the right to request a decrease in rent. If it goes up landlords can generally raise rents.

The interest rate used to set the reference rate is the average rate on outstanding mortgage loans. This rate rose from 1.69% at 30 September 2023 to 1.72% on 31 December 2023. The average actual rate was then rounded to the nearest quarter of a percent,

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Switzerland’s marriage tax penalty back in the spotlight

February 25, 2024

Married couples in Switzerland are taxed together, unlike unmarried couples who are taxed individually. This often acts as a tax disincentive for one spouse to work, disproportionately affecting women.
For many years, certain political parties have been pushing to remove what is essentially discrimination on the basis of marital status.
The issue came back into the limelight this week in the run up to a 27 March 2024 deadline for the government to respond to an initiative on the subject, reported SRF.
This week, the Federal Council presented a proposal to introduce individual taxation for everyone regardless of marital status. The proposal would have broadly the same impact as the initiative. The main difference is the initiative, if successful, would change the

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Switzerland’s marriage tax penalty back in the spotlight

February 24, 2024

Married couples in Switzerland are taxed together, unlike unmarried couples who are taxed individually. This often acts as a tax disincentive for one spouse to work, disproportionately affecting women.

For many years, certain political parties have been pushing to remove what is essentially discrimination on the basis of marital status.

The issue came back into the limelight this week in the run up to a 27 March 2024 deadline for the government to respond to an initiative on the subject, reported SRF.

This week, the Federal Council presented a proposal to introduce individual taxation for everyone regardless of marital status. The proposal would have broadly the same impact as the initiative. The main difference is the initiative, if successful, would change the constitution,

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More than 17,000 drivers fined in a month on one Zurich street

February 23, 2024

At the end of September 2023, driving was banned on a 60 metre section of Langstrasse in Zurich. To enforce the ban, cameras were later set up on 8 January 2024 to catch and fine errant drivers. Since then 17,310 fines have been issued.

© Thomas-Stoiber – Dreamstime.comThe driving ban, which excludes buses, was introduced to make the area more cycling friendly and applies from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

At CHF 100 each, the recent fines have generated 1.7 million of revenue for the city. However, a city official said the authorities are unhappy about the number of fines issued and would like to see the number fall.

Part of the problem appears to be a lack of awareness. As awareness rises the city expects the number of fines to fall. In the meantime, the CHF 100 fines will add up to an

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More than 17,000 drivers fined in a month on one Zurich street

February 23, 2024

At the end of September 2023, driving was banned on a 60 metre section of Langstrasse in Zurich. To enforce the ban, cameras were later set up on 8 January 2024 to catch and fine errant drivers. Since then 17,310 fines have been issued.
© Thomas-Stoiber – Dreamstime.comThe driving ban, which excludes buses, was introduced to make the area more cycling friendly and applies from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
At CHF 100 each, the recent fines have generated 1.7 million of revenue for the city. However, a city official said the authorities are unhappy about the number of fines issued and would like to see the number fall.
Part of the problem appears to be a lack of awareness. As awareness rises the city expects the number of fines to fall. In the meantime, the CHF 100 fines

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Higher Swiss pensions – voter support narrows

February 23, 2024

Support for the popular initiative to boost state pensions by 1/13 narrowed from 61% to 53% between 14 January and 10 February, according to a poll published by RTS.

© Bigpressphoto-Dreamstime.comVoting intentions vary significantly by age. In the latest poll, people under 40 were most against it (55%), possibly because they know they will probably need to finance most of it. While only 34% of those 65 and over were against it. Those in the middle are the middle, with only 42% opposed to more money for pensioners.

Voting intentions correlate closely with income level. Those on higher incomes are more likely to be against it than those on lower incomes. 70% of those earning CHF 3000 – 4000 a month were in favour of higher pensions while only 44% of those earning over CHF 11,000 were.

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Swiss supercomputer aims to make AI open to all

February 17, 2024

Much of the progress being made in AI is captured within private companies aiming to keep in to themselves in order to profit from it. Open AI, a project started as an open-source non-profit has morphed into a largely closed-source profit-maximising project increasingly integrated into the software company Microsoft. Many see open-source as critical to the healthy development of AI. A super computer combined with the knowhow of Switzerlands world-leading federal universities could help to swing the pendulum back into the open-source court, reported SRF this week.
© CSCSThe supercomputer is based in the CSCS data center in Lugano. It will contain 10,000 superchips and will be able to perform four peta operations per second. The centre is set to be the first public

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