Swiss haunted by job fears

Swiss workers are worried about their jobs as unemployment continues to rise Keystone

Unemployment is now the biggest worry for most Swiss, according to a survey by the Credit Suisse banking group.

This content was published on December 15, 2003 minutes

Over two-thirds of those polled said they were concerned about job security, which replaced health care as their primary headache.

Unemployment topped the list of the annual Credit Suisse “Worry Barometer” for the first time in four years. Almost 70 per cent of respondents said it was one of their five main concerns - up 15 per cent on the 2002 poll.

The jobless rate reached a five-year high in November, rising to four per cent. This was despite a seasonally adjusted decline for the first time in almost three years.

It is expected to continue to rise despite signs of an economic recovery.

Health care and its spiralling costs were relegated to second place in the survey, despite registering as a major concern for 63 per cent of respondents - up five percentage points.

The Swiss also fear for their future. Nearly three out of five of those polled said they were worried about the state of Switzerland’s three-pillar pension system.

In a follow-up question, unemployment, health care and pensions were also the three topics people saw as priorities to be dealt with.

Domestic issues

Concerns about refugees and asylum dropped off in 2003, despite the issue being one of the hot topics of this year’s federal elections. Just over one third of those surveyed said it was a problem.

Private and public finance also struck a chord with the Swiss, who voiced concern about poverty and the state’s mounting financial troubles.

Non-Swiss issues proved to be of less interest. Themes such as closer integration with Europe and globalisation drifted down the list of concerns, while the threat of terrorist attack no longer seem to worry the Swiss.

Just 14 per cent of those polled said they were worried about the environment - an all-time low. In 1988 three-quarters of the respondents said this was a concern.

Economic outlook

The Swiss also continue to feel that their business leaders and politicians are not doing their job properly. Over half of the respondents said business has failed to resolve important issues.

Political parties fared a lot worse, with just 18 per cent of those surveyed giving them a vote of confidence. The media came out even worse, scoring one percentage point less.

Individual politicians scored better, as did the federal government. The Swiss put a lot of faith in the country’s justice system and the police, who won a 56 per cent of approval rating.

People are hedging their bets on what the future holds for their finances, with the vast majority stating they will probably be no better or worse off in 12 months’ time. The survey’s authors say the Swiss are cautiously optimistic about the general economic outlook.

The survey polled 1,033 people shortly before October’s federal elections. Credit Suisse has published its “Worry Barometer” since 1976.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

67% of those polled for the "Worry Barometer" said their biggest concern was unemployment, ahead of health care and the pension system.
Asylum is a worry for just over a third of the population.
Domestic issues dominate Swiss concerns, whereas Europe, globalisation and terrorism are less of a priority.

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