The COVID-19 crisis has taken a heavy toll on the Swiss labor market. In the second quarter of 2020, amid the first lockdown, total employment was down 0.9% year-on-year on a seasonally adjusted basis – the sharpest quarterly drop in nearly 30 years. Following a temporary setback during the second lockdown in early 2021, employment has been picking up again since the spring. In fact, it was already about 0.9 percentage points above its pre-crisis level by the end of September 2021.
The ongoing recovery in the jobs market is also reflected in the search for personnel – in other words, an increase in labor market tightness. The latter refers to the ratio between job vacancies and unemployed persons, and is an indicator of how difficult it is to fill vacancies from the employer's point of view. A figure above 1 shows that – simply put – the demand for labor outweighs the supply. A value below 1 indicates that the opposite is the case.
The number of vacancies in the Swiss labor market in the third quarter of 2021 was only slightly short of the number of unemployed persons – meaning that in recent quarters it has once again become more difficult for companies to fill vacant positions with the right personnel. The labor market is particularly tight in the IT industry, but also in parts of the industrial sector (such as chemicals/pharmaceuticals and mechanical engineering) as well as healthcare and social services, with many companies currently experiencing recruitment problems.