Jobs in Chaux-de-Fonds – Working in Switzerland

Posted on 14 April 2008 by ThomasP

The watch making city of Chaux-de-Fonds in the canton of Neuchatel has too many jobs. Many of the jobs are taken by foreigners working in Switzerland and commuting from nearby France.

The economy of Chaux-de-Fonds, in the canton of Neuchatel, is booming, showing a 2007 growth of almost 5% in jobs for over the preceding year. In 2006, roughly 1000 new jobs were created in this small watchmaking town.

Currently there roughly 25,000 jobs in Chaux-de-Fonds, of which 6100 are in watchmaking.

Of the work in Switzerland, a substantial part of the jobs in Chaux-de-Fonds are taken by border workers (‘frontaliers’) – workers actually living in neighboring France who commute across the border to work in Switzerland. The practice engenders a certain amount of local hostility. Between 2006 and 2007, the number of commuters rose by more (about a 1000) than the increase in jobs.

Jobs in chaux-de-Fonds, Neuchatel, Switzerland

The residents of Chaux-de-Fonds wonder whether their strong economy is profiting only workers living in neighboring France and coming across the border to work in Switzerland. The city president in charge of the economy (Socialist Laurent Kurth) organized recently a press conference to show that this perception is largely an exaggeration. He cited figures showing that the number of jobs occupied by border workers had risen by roughly 500, and that the rise was proportionally less steep than the increases noted from other regions of Neuchatel where there are higher concentrations of nonresident foreigners working in Switzerland.

Working in Neuchatel, Switzerland

in Chaux-de-Fonds, border workers hold 16% of the jobs, against 14.6% in 2006. Between 1990 and 2007, the number of commuters doubled, going from 5000 to 10,000. In the same time, border workers rose 80%. Their importance, according to city officials, has therefore declined. That fact, however, goes strongly against the perceptions of the resident population, who feel that jobs in Work in Chaux-de-Fonds -  SwitzerlandSwitzerland are being squandered on nonresidents. Chaux-de-Fonds nonetheless is managing extremely well, despite numerous workers from neighboring France pouring across the border to take jobs in Switzerland. Over the past few years, the unemployment rate has continually decreased. As of February 2008, the jobless rate was roughly 4%. When one considers only the fields of highly educated professionals (biomedical, information systems, engineering, managerial…) there is too much work in Switzerland for the available supply of career professionals to assume the vacant jobs.

To deal with the ‘frontalier’ question, the authorities are trying instead to convince these border workers to move into the community of Chaux-de-Fonds. The population of Chaux-de-Fonds is currently about 37,000. In 1967 the population of Chaux-de-Fonds was 43,000. The tiny city has an image problem. From the rest of Neuchatel, the mountainous Chaux-de-Fonds are perceived as an austere industrial region with nasty winter weather. The city government is publishing a brochure enumerating all the advantages for a border worker working in Switzerland but currently living in neighboring France to entice him to move and establish himself in Chaux-de-Fonds. The brochure highlights the city’s quality of life, its amenities, and natural surroundings and high quality, inexpensive housing.

For a commuter living in Neuchatel, travel to work amounts to six full days of a year and costs 5640 francs. A border worker commuting from, say, Besançon, spends 29.5 days in his car per year and spends a total of 26,420 francs.

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