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UBS salary survey: 2009 wage round likely to generate real wage increases of 1.0%

Zurich / Basel | | Media Releases Switzerland

According to UBS's latest salary survey, nominal wages in Switzerland should increase by 2.4% in 2009 after this year's wage round. As UBS anticipates an inflation rate of 1.4% in 2009, there will be an average real increase in base salaries of 1.0%. According to the companies surveyed, effective nominal wages increased by 2.2% in 2008. As a result of a temporary sharp rise in energy and commodity prices, UBS estimates this year's inflation rate to average 2.6%, which is not fully compensated by the wage increases agreed upon one year ago. These are the main results of the 20th UBS salary survey, which is conducted annually in Switzerland among companies in 16 sectors.

Highest wage growth in chemicals and pharmaceuticals
The largest wage increases for 2009 are expected in the IT/telecommunications and the watchmaking industries (both at +3.0%) as well as in the public sector and in pharmaceuticals and chemicals (+2.9% each). According to the UBS salary survey, an average wage increase of +2.8% can be expected in the machinery, electrical engineering and metal industries. Increases in base salaries in the construction, insurance and banking, and tourism sectors will be slightly below the national average at approximately 2.0%. The textile industry and the materials sectors (wood, paper, plastics) are expected to post the most modest wage increases with an average of +1.5%. These figures are based on base salaries and do not include performance-related, non-guaranteed wage components.

Employment growth and wage increases boost consumption
In the last few years, the strong economy generated a significant rise in employment and a moderate annual increase in real wages, which made private consumption in Switzerland a key growth driver. Between 1997 and 2007, employment in Switzerland increased by nearly 1% per year, and according to the survey, real wages were raised by an average of around 0.6% per year. Although employment is likely to rise by around 2.1% in 2008, results from the UBS salary survey provide first signs of a considerably more cautious employment policy in the companies surveyed. In light of the global economic slowdown, a significantly lower employment growth is to be expected for Switzerland in 2009 and the unemployment rate will increase from an annual average of 2.5% in the current year to 2.8% next year.

UBS conducts the salary survey on an annual basis. This year's survey was conducted between 30 September and 21 October 2008 among around 230 companies as well as employer and employee associations in 16 sectors which employ two thirds of the working population in Switzerland. Between 1990 and 2006, wage increases estimated based on the survey results deviated by just 0.3% on average from the official wage figures (nominal wage index and collective labor agreements) subsequently published by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office (SFSO).

The detailed results of the 2008 UBS salary survey are available online at: www.ubs.com/wmr-swiss-research.

Table: Nominal wage increases in selected sectors in Switzerland (in %) according to the UBS salary survey

Effective Increase 2008

Forecast 2009

IT & Telecommunications

2.3%

3.0%

Watchmaking

2.5%

3.0%

Public sector

2.5%

2.9%

Pharmaceuticals and chemicals

2.3%

2.9%

Machinery, electrical engineering, metal

2.5%

2.8%

Energy

2.3%

2.5%

Retail

2.2%

2.5%

Wholesale trade & logistics

2.3%

2.5%

Services for companies

2.0%

2.5%

Food

2.0%

2.5%

Construction

2.1%

2.0%

Banking & insurance

2.3%

2.0%

Print & media

1.8%

2.0%

Tourism

2.2%

2.0%

Materials

1.9%

1.5%

Textiles & apparel

2.0%

1.5%

Contact:

Daniel Kalt

Head Economic & Swiss Research

Tel. +41-44-234 25 60

Felix Brill

Economic & Swiss Research

Tel. +41-44-234 35 54