Corona & Switzerland: The Aftershocks

Just when we thought climate change was the biggest global challenge of our times, along comes Covid-19, putting ‘vast’ into devastation: the pandemic has scarred the new decade with 24 million infections worldwide, claiming 822,000 deaths. Much like a war, every conceivable corner of life has been crippled. Historically, amid world wars, Switzerland has remained stable on neutral terra firma. But an attack of this kind knows no political agenda, so no immunity even for this economic capital.

  • According to Switzerland expects a budget deficit of CHF3.1 billion for 2020 alone. It adds: “Extraordinary Covid-19 expenditure amounts to CHF17.8 billion, meaning an expected total funding deficit of CHF20.9 billion”.
  • Back in June, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) forecast that manufacturing output would fall by approximately 25% of total economic added value compared to 2019. They anticipated the sharpest fall in the GDP in the second quarter. SECO’s forecast added: “Provided that further waves of the pandemic do not materialise, the economy should begin to recover from the second half of the year.
  • On 27 August 2020, SECO published a press release, stating: “The GDP fell by -8.2% in the second quarter of 2020. The global economy also plunged into a sharp recession. However, the Swiss GDP decline was relatively mild in comparison to other countries.” This decline marks the largest dip ever recorded for Switzerland.

“Switzerland is facing an unprecedented downturn.”

Since the coronavirus hit Swiss turf, the locals, akin to other nations, have been working and playing … distantly. With home-office, furloughing, short-time work, and in some instances, redundancy playing new corona-roles in our job descriptions, it’s hardly surprising that the Swiss GDP is down … along with general morale, no doubt. But Switzerland is by no means alone: on 12 August, the UK was officially declared in recession, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirming the UK government is “grappling with something that is unprecedented”. An article in the Washington Post claimed the coronavirus would cost the United States economy $8 trillion until 2030. Worldwide, unemployment has risen. Indisputably, these are hard times.

Swivelling the spotlight back to Switzerland, according to one of the world’s largest professional services and accounting firms, Deloitte, “Switzerland is facing an unprecedented downturn”.

Self-employed? 77% have had a tough time…

The coronavirus has badly stung the Swiss self-employed. According to the Deloitte article, here are the stats:

  • 18% have had to close their businesses
  • 21% are still trading, but business is down to zero
  • 38% report a decrease in business

However, as with any crisis, there are always the few who stand to gain. 10% of self-employed individuals have seen an increase in revenue, while 21% report that the pandemic has made no financial impact.

63% of the employed report a negative impact

To break it down, employees have suffered in the following ways:

  • 54% have had to reduce their hours
  • 27% have had overtime cut
  • 24% have lost annual leave
  • 2% have lost their jobs

The silver lining

“The Swiss economy is coming through the crisis relatively intact”

Despite that mask-wearing, social distancing and quarantine-or-be-fined measures are being reintroduced due to rising infections (Swiss cases are up by 20% from last week), the forecast is not so pessimistic according to the KOF Swiss Economic Institute . They claim “the Swiss economy is coming through the crisis relatively intact compared with the rest of Europe”.

Yes, the current economic climate is gloomy; furloughing is depressing; the travel trauma preventing us from loved ones is heart-breaking … but we can come back stronger. In fact, organisations like the World Economic Forum say that economies can become more resilient. And this article discusses the possibility of coming back from an epidemic stronger and greener. So, all is not lost.

iET: Your personal silver lining

New career opportunities may be just the antidote you need in these life-changing times – and iET could bring you the solution. We not only offer contracting and permanent roles, but we also have technical training courses, starting this month:

7-8 September – ITIL 4 Foundation

8-9 September – PWA mit Angular

26-27 October – Kubernetes DevOps

26-27 October – Scrum Product Owner Certified

Browse iET’s jobs page for all the latest contracting and permanent roles and sharpen your skills on one of our courses!

Written by Nadia Danaos