Residents with migration background twice as likely to be unemployed

Once people with a migration background have found a job, their chances of advancement seem reasonably good Copyright: Christian Egger

Last year 2,766,000 people – 38% of Switzerland’s permanent resident population aged 15 and over – had a migration background, 0.3 percentage points more than in 2019.

This content was published on November 30, 2021 minutes

Whereas 7% of these people were unemployed in 2020, regardless of generation, the rate was only 3% for those without such a background, the Federal Statistical Office said on TuesdayExternal link. However, the share of unemployed people with a migration background has been decreasing for years: in 2016 it was 7.8%.

Of those with a migration background, 80% were born abroad. The most common nationalities – apart from Swiss (36%) – were Italian and German (both 10%).

Canton Geneva had by far the highest proportion of inhabitants with a migration background, namely 60.9%. It was followed by Basel City (52.2%), Vaud (49.6%), Ticino (49.3%) and Zurich (43.3%). The lowest percentage was found in Uri (14.1%) and Appenzell Inner Rhodes (14.6%).

Rarely self-employed but often overqualified

People with a migration background are less likely to have their own business. In 2020, 4.1% of this group were self-employed with at least one employee. This compares with 6.7% in the population without a migration background.

Once people in this group have found a job, their chances of advancement seem reasonably intact. The proportion of employees with managerial functions is only slightly lower than for people without a migration background: 32% for the first generation and 33% for the second, compared with 35% for employees without a migration background. This proportion has fluctuated only slightly over the past ten years.

However, first-generation workers with a migration background are significantly more likely to be overqualified than those without: 19% of foreign-born workers with a tertiary education work in jobs for which this education is not necessary. This is the case for only 12% of the workforce without a migration background. Among both groups, women are more often overqualified: for those with a migration background the figure is 22.8% (15.4% for men), while for those without a migration background it is 12.6% (11.7% for men).

The statistical office warned against considering migration background as the only explanatory factor for the differences between these groups. “Other variables such as age or level of education can also have an influence,” it said.

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