Expat employment in Switzerland soars as worker shortages continue

Expat employment in Switzerland soars as worker shortages continue

A new study by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) has revealed that jobs in Switzerland are still highly appealing to expats and internationals, with the number of Swiss residence permits issued increasing dramatically over the last year. Short and medium-term permits were the most common types, although 2022 has also seen a rise in cross-border work.

Expat employment figures eclipse those of Swiss workers

According to the FSO, the number of expats in work has risen by 3,7 percent between September 2021 and September 2022. Conversely, employment among Swiss citizens has started to fall, with 0,6 percent fewer people in work than 12 months ago. In all, 5,151 million people were employed in the alpine nation at the end of the third quarter of 2022, 0,8 percent more than in the same quarter the year before.

The last 12 months have seen a significant increase in the number of people claiming short-term (L) residence permits, with 7,9 percent more L-permits issued between September 2021 and 2022. This would imply a large number of expats are fulfilling short or fixed-term work contracts to help soften the labour crisis, as the country is seeing an all-time record number of jobs available.

Number of new expats in Switzerland rises as unemployment falls

The number of new “residence” permits (B) has also increased by 7,7 percent over the last year, accompanied by a 5,9 percent increase in the number of cross-border permits for those living in French, Italian, Austrian and German cities. Interestingly, the number of employed people issued with a “settlement” or C permit - the permit required for naturalisation and applications for Swiss citizenship - declined by 0,3 percent between September 2021 and 2022.

The FSO noted that the number of people claiming unemployment benefits has also fallen. At the end of September 2022, 212.000 people were registered as unemployed in Switzerland, 41.000 fewer than at the same time in 2021. The overall unemployment rate in Switzerland is now 4,2 percent, 1,8 percentage points lower than the average in the European Union.

People in Switzerland choose longer working hours and less remote work

Along with more people working, the FSO also found that workers in Switzerland are choosing to take longer working hours. The average number of hours worked increased by 2 percent in the last year and is now well above pre-pandemic levels. The biggest rise in working hours was found among people employed in transportation, where staff are taking on 6,1 percent more hours than they did in September 2021.

The FSO concluded that there has been a continued decline in remote working, with 1,6 percent fewer people working from home “at least occasionally”. The sectors with the highest amount of home working were the media, information, bankinginsurance and communications industries, with between 83 and 73,3 percent of staff working from home on occasion.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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