Zurich workers "undisputed" wage champions

Workers in Zurich are the best paid in the world and have the world's highest purchasing power, according to a study released by bank UBS.

This content was published on August 19, 2009 minutes

Geneva workers also do well. UBS figures show that net wages of people employed in Switzerland's two largest cities are higher than anywhere else. But Zurich and Geneva – along with Oslo, Copenhagen and Tokyo – are also the world's priciest.

Manila, Delhi, Jakarta and Mumbai found themselves among the bottom in terms of wage levels, price levels and domestic purchasing power.

The information was published in the bank's Prices and Earnings 2009 report, released on Wednesday. The study was based on a standardised basket of 122 goods and services in 73 cities around the world.

UBS found that gross incomes in Zurich were 15.8 per cent higher than in New York, although that figure climbed to 19.8 per cent when net pay was examined. Comparably, gross pay in Copenhagen was 25.5 per cent higher than in New York, although after taxes and social security contributions, a Dane would be left with nearly seven per cent less money than a New Yorker.

To put it into perspective, a Zurich worker would have to work nine hours to purchase an iPod Nano MP3 player at local prices. So would a New Yorker. A Torontonian would work 10.5 hours, an Athenian 24.5 hours and a Mumbai resident 177 hours.

Western Europe is marginally more expensive to live in than North America, UBS said, but more than 50 per cent more expensive than eastern Europe.

Swiss pay roughly 20 per cent more for products and services than people in other Western European countries, UBS said, but added that "with its extremely high gross wages and comparatively low tax rates, Switzerland is a very employee-friendly country".

Zurich and Geneva have the world's highest food prices, behind Japan. Clothing costs roughly five times as much as in Kuala Lumpur and taxis are twice as expensive as in New York.

Middle Easterners and Asians work the most hours, UBS said; the French work the least. In Cairo, people on average toil 2,373 hours per year, followed by Seoul at 2,312 hours. A Parisian will work 1,594 hours.

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