The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Swiss incomes keep going up

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 25 April 2023
While inflation keeps driving up the prices of Swiss housing, groceries and more; a new report found that Swiss employees’ salaries are keeping pace. Also, there are more Swiss millionaires than ever before.
Swiss incomes keep going up
A tourist boat cuts through downtown Zurich where salaries have been on the rise since 2007.

(Keystone) According to a new study, the income of Swiss households grew noticeably from 2007 to 2019. In 2019, an average Swiss household had around 7,300 francs more at its disposal than twelve years earlier.

The average Swiss income has risen in all years except 2012 and 2015, according to the edition of the Bank Cler Swiss Income Monitor (BCSIM) published on Tuesday, which the bank compiled together with the economic research institute BAK Economics. The average annual income of Swiss households in 2007 was CHF 63,149. By 2019, this number had risen by 11.5 percent to an average of CHF 70,425.

However, there are regional differences, as Bank Cler writes. Incomes in the cantons of Zug, Schwyz and Glarus increased the most in the period under review. In one canton, average incomes even fell, namely in Geneva.

Swiss incomes keep going up
Geneva is the one canton that has not seen a steady increase in salaries.
Higher bar for belonging to the middle class

But because the average income is often distorted by individual top earners, the bank also determined the median income in the study. According to the announcement, this was CHF 53,600 in 2019. This means that half of the incomes were above, the other half below. Here, too, the study shows a steady increase since 2007: At that time, the median wage was significantly lower at CHF 49,100.

According to the study, those who have 70 to 150 percent of the median value at their disposal – i.e. earning between CHF 35,000 and CHF 80,000 a year – belong to the middle class. Those who earn less belong to the middle class, those who earn more belong to the upper class.

According to this classification, 35 percent of households in Switzerland belong to the lower class. 37 percent of households are in the middle class and 28 percent belong to the upper class. In a twelve-year comparison, access to the middle class has become more difficult: “Since 2007, the income threshold for the middle class in Switzerland has risen by over 9 percent,” Bank Clerk boss Samuel Meyer is quoted as saying in the statement.

Swiss incomes keep going up
Many Swiss residences are second homes belonging to foreigners who must pay Swiss taxes on them.
Low-tax and high-income cantons with a heavy financial sector focus

According to the study, low-tax cantons such as Zug, Schwyz and Nidwalden are at the top of the income ranking. In Zug, for example, the average income (not the median income) is CHF 116,000, in Schwyz it is CHF 102,000. In addition to the canton of Zug, this is the first canton to achieve an average income of more than 100,000 francs.

According to the information, households in Zurich have an average income of 80,000 francs, those in Geneva one of 77,000 francs. On average, households in Valais (CHF 55,000) and Jura (CHF 51,000) earn the least. “It’s not just the tax rate that explains the differences, but also the industry structure,” Cler boss Meyer is quoted as saying. Many banks are based in Zurich, as well as management consultancies that pay well, and commodity trading is also in Geneva.

Swiss incomes keep going up
Zug, where the highest concentration of Swiss millionaires live.
More millionaires

The number of wealthy millionaires increased by 63 percent between 2007 and 2019, according to the study. However, it was not the wages that had an effect here, but the rising real estate and stock market values. According to the information, 6.5 percent of all households have assets of 1 million or more – that’s a total of 350,000.

Most millionaires live in the canton of Zug, where 14.2 percent of all households have assets in excess of one million. In second place is Schwyz (13.4%), followed by Appenzell-Innerrhoden (11.6%), Nidwalden (11.2%) and Zurich (9.5%).

The authors of the study considered the so-called net income for their survey. This is the net income from wages, pensions, capital income and alimony, from which personal deductions (e.g. alimony or payments into pillar 3a) and additional deductions such as medical expenses or charitable donations are deducted.

This article was reprinted with permission from Keystone SDA.

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