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Persistent gender pay gap remains in Switzerland

The average annual gross salary in Switzerland stood at CHF68,200 ($72,150) last year – a CHF600 rise on 2018. However, the gender pay gap has scarcely narrowed.

In 2019 women earned CHF72,800 on average for a 90-100% job while men took home CHF86,000, the Federal Statistical Office reported on Tuesday.

Women’s salaries increased by CHF1,300 last year, compared to CHF800 for men.

For part-time workers, women earned on average CHF38,500, while men took home CHF48,100 – a CHF2,600 increase compared to the previous year.

Full-time managers earned CHF123,000 (women: CHF105,700; men CHF130,000). The wage gap was slightly narrower for office jobs – women earned 9.2% less – than in teaching professions (-11%) or management roles (-18.7%). Female lower skilled workers earned the lowest average annual salaries (CHF19,400); in this category men earned almost three times as much (CHF58,000).

The gender pay gap is a persistent problem in Switzerland with women on average earning 20% less than men. Discrimination and the difficulty of combining work and family are also issues preoccupying Swiss women.

High cost of living

Average salaries across many professions are higher than what you might find in other countries. But the cost of living is very high in Switzerland. When you deduct mandatory contributions to pensions and unemployment insurance and another 20% of gross income for rent and utilities, the salary doesn’t look quite so generous. Unlike in many other countries, taxes and health insurance are also not automatically deducted from wages in Switzerland.  

When you add transport costs that drain an average 8% of gross income, some of the most expensive childcare in the world, and food, drink and leisure on the so-called “high price island”, the salary looks even more mediocre. Households with a gross monthly income of under CHF5,000 are unable to save any money according to government statistics.  

There are growing concerns that salaries are stagnating while cost of living continues to rise, with particularly dire consequences for low-paid workers. Some 320,000 jobs – about 12% of workers – are considered low paid.