A government survey analysing wage structures in the Alpine nation found that the median salary for a full-time job in 2016 was CHF6,502 ($6,502) for the entire Swiss economy.This content was published on May 14, 2018 - 11:45
The Federal Statistical Office survey, published on Monday, reflects a small reduction in the gender wage gap, as well as in the salary differential of high- versus low-income earners.
The gross salary of CHF6,502 is what a full-time employee in Switzerland would earn on the assumption that half of his or her colleagues earn more, and the other half earn less. That represents a CHF313 pay rise relative to 2014, when the last statistical office survey was conducted.
However, this median value masks significant disparities between different economic sectors and the various regions of the country.
Remuneration levels are significantly higher than the median salary in high value-added activities such as the pharmaceutical industry (CHF9,835) or financial services (CHF9,742). At the bottom of the pay scale are retail trade (CHF4,798), hotels and restaurants (CHF4,337), and personal services (CHF4,076).
To claim a larger fortune at the end of the month, it would appear better to live in canton Zurich (CHF6,869) than in Ticino (CHF5,563). But this doesn’t factor in cost of living: much higher, for example, on Zurich's "Gold Coast" than south of the Alps.
A stable divide
The survey found that the divide between the highest and lowest earners narrowed only slightly between 2008 and 2016, down from a factor of 2.7 to 2.6. The bottom 10% of Swiss earners have a monthly salary lower than CHF4,313, while the best-paid 10% earn more than CHF11,406.
During the same period, wages increased by 6.3% for the top 10% of earners, by 6.9% for the middle-income earners, and by 9.9% for the lowest-paid 10%.
Overall, the share of low-wage jobs in the Swiss economy is declining, according to the statistical office data. A low-wage job is defined as a full-time job with a gross monthly wage of less than CHF4,335. In 2016, there were approximately 329,000 such jobs in the country, representing 10.2% of total jobs, compared with 11.4% in 2008.
Gender pay gap
The gap between male and female wages is narrowing, according to the statistical office figures. In 2016, the gender pay gap was 12%, compared with 16.6 % in 2008. However, that gap was more pronounced in the private sector, where women earned 14.6% less than their male colleagues, compared with 12.5% in the public sector.
These earning discrepancies could be partly explained by variations in activity type as well as structural differences, according to the report. In management positions, women earn on average 18.5% less than men. A difference that is "only" 8.4% in subordinate functions.
The fight for gender parity is far from over in Switzerland. About 60% of jobs with a salary level below CHF4,500 are occupied by women. Conversely, 83.3% of paid jobs worth more than CHF16,000 are held by men.
Better paid foreign executives
Finally, as the statistical office also noted in its previous survey, there are significant differences based on the nationality of the employees. On average, the Swiss earn almost CHF1,000 more per month than foreigners (CHF6,808 versus CHF5,893) in all occupational categories combined.
However, this situation is reversed when one moves up the hierarchy.
Swiss managers are less well off than their international counterparts, earning CHF10,136 compared with CHF10,750. They also earn less than those with long-term (CHF11,107) or medium-term (CHF12,247) residence permits.
These figures suggest Swiss companies do not hesitate to loosen the purse strings to attract the best foreign talent.
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