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Steady increase of cross-border workers continued in 2020

“Customs”: a border crossing at Geneva. Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi

The number of cross-border workers plying their trade in Switzerland has more than doubled since the mid-1990s. The rising trend continues, increasing by over 4% between 2019 and 2020.

At the end of 2020, some 343,000 cross-border workers were employed in Switzerland, up from 329,000 in December 2019, the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) said on Thursday.

This amounts to 6.7% of the active population in Switzerland.

As before, the majority live in neighbouring countries: 55% in France, 23% in Italy, and 18% in Germany. Likewise, they mostly work in border regions. While canton Geneva has the highest number of cross-border workers (90,000 or a quarter of the total workforce), Ticino has the largest proportion (29% of the workforce).

Most cross-border workers are active in the service sector (67%, compared with 77% of the local workforce), and they are over-represented in industry (33% as opposed to 21%).

Long-term growth

In the report published on Thursday, the FSO also provided some context about the steady increase in cross-border workers in Switzerland over the past decades, noting that they have more than doubled since 1996, when there were 140,000.

Since 2004, the FSO states, this group has increased by an average of 4.4% each year.

Various factors have driven this, including the introduction of freedom of movement with Schengen countries in 2002, as well as economic growth in Switzerland over the past decades.

The resident Swiss population has increased from some 6.5 million in 1990 to 8.5 million today.

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