July 2020 Covid-19 Unemployment Rate and Impact on Switzerland

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08.08.2020 – ZURICH

The Corona crisis and the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dominate the Swiss labour market as unemployment remains well above 2019 figures for the summer of 2019. 

Job seekers are seeing some movement with new hiring increasing in July above the number hired in June. The recorded unemployment for July 2020 was a total of 148,870 people who were out of work. This compares to 97,578 registered unemployed for July 2019. 

That number is 1419 fewer than in June and “Kurzarbeit” (Swiss government supported employment scheme for short-time working) has enabled many to keep their jobs for the moment. 

The unemployment rate remains close to 3.2% which is still better than predicted during the height of the pandemic in April and May.

Zurich has a problem, just like elsewhere in Switzerland because the unemployment issue affects the over-45s and the young disproportionately. Youngsters leaving school seeking an apprenticeship are struggling to find one, in 2019 it was easier and school-leavers are also struggling. In 2019 unemployment for the young was almost half with only c.300 young adults without work. 

The government states for the over-50 age group do not paint a rosy picture, the reality, ageism for employment starts in Switzerland at 45. Not all people are registered either because of long-term unemployment and having not found a job within the RAV insurance support period. In July 39,530 registered over 50 aged people were unemployed. Compared to July 2019, the number today is over 40% higher. 

Geneva canton has the biggest challenge, they have the highest unemployment rate, 5.1% which means for the working population, every 20th person is unemployed. 

Employers operating close to the border are under pressure to cap wages because of the appreciation of the Swiss Franc against the Euro, a good number reduced their contracting staff numbers and many across Switzerland are considering the “gig economy” for short-term flexible employment needs. 

This does not bode well for many job seekers or those employed in companies known to be struggling even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.


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