Historical series

Purchasing power trends

Real wages, determined by adjusting nominal wages to inflation, are historically lower than nominal wages and have sometimes been negative as well (15 times in the history of the Swiss wage index). Years of negative inflation are an exception to the rule (e.g. 2009, the period between 2012 and 2016 and the year 2020) when there was strong growth in the purchasing power of wages.

Inflation is calculated by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) using a standard basket of goods and services that is adjusted according to changes in the type of goods and services consumed (What is the CPI? | Federal Statistical Office (admin.ch) Only available in French, German and Italian. The standard basket and weightings are updated annually Panier-type et pondération| Federal Statistical Office (admin.ch). Since its creation in 1922, the CPI has been revised on eleven occasions: in 1926,1950, 1966, 1977, 1982, 1993, 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2020. The next methodological revision of the CPI will take place in 2025.

Changes in the history of the SWI

From 1942 to 1994, wage growth was calculated on the basis of data from the October survey on wages and pay.

From 1994, the wage index has been calculated using a new baseline. The Ordinance on the Conduct of Federal Statistical Surveys of 30 June 1993 (as on 13 July 2004) stipulates that wage growth is henceforth based on accident claims supplied by the Central Office for Statistics under the Federal Act on Accident Insurance(SSUV). Thanks to the entry into force of the Federal Act on Accident Insurance (LAA), which obliges all employees to be insured, the wage index statistics can be based on this data universe. The SWI includes all persons aged 19 to 65 for men and 19 to 64 for women. Apprentices, persons working in a family business, interns and travelling salespersons are excluded.

The Swiss wage index (ISS) uses the General Classification of Economic Activities (NOGA). The first NOGA was developed for the 1905 business census. In the censuses of 1929, 1939, 1955, 1965, 1975, 1985, 1995 and 2002, new classifications were developed to take account of structural changes and newly emerging economic sectors. Until 2001, wage index publications also provided information on the primary sector (horticulture and forestry). Since 2011, the new classification of economic activities NOGA08 has been used. The activity 'Sewage and refuse disposal, sanitation and similar activities (90)', which was included in the tertiary sector, Section O, has been part of the secondary sector, Section E since 2011. The next revision of the nomenclature will take place in 2025.

Since the first quarter of 2020, the wage index estimates have been impacted by the COVID pandemic

Further information




Federal Statistical Office Section Wages and Working Conditions
Espace de l'Europe 10
CH-2010 Neuchâtel



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