Overview economy

Population, economic growth, value added, sectoral structure and employment. Here you can find the most important macroeconomic figures and charts for the business location Basel.


  2010 2016 2017 2018
nominal GDP (CHF billion) 30.2 33.4 33.9 34.9*
nominal GDP (CHF per capita) 163'050 173'751 174'209 180'414*
growth in real GDP per capita 1.9 % 2.2 % 2.8 % 3.7 %*
inflation 0.8 % - 0.2 % 0.8 % 1.1 %

Source: BAK Economics, Statistical Office of the Canton of Basel-Stadt.
* = preliminary figures

Regional economic performance



Gross value added

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Sectoral concentration and productivity

Explanation: The coefficient of localisation is created to analyse the regional specialisations of the industries. It compares the ratio of employed persons of the industry with the average ratio of the sector for total employment. A value higher than 1 indicates that in Basel-Stadt the sector is represented higher than the Swiss average.

Data status 2018.

Source: BAK Economics, Statistical Office of the Canton of Basel-Stadt


Business structure

Workplaces and employment by the size of the workplace

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Economic Forecast

Solid growth in the Canton of Basel-Stadt despite global uncertainty

Global: Weakening of international economic cycles

Ongoing global uncertainties, particularly the looming threat of a trade war between the US and China (which hadn’t been resolved when this newsletter went to press) along with the risk of further spreading of the conflict, are putting the brakes on global economic growth. Indicators for this development are first, a restrained economic drive in global trade, and second, an overall weaker global growth. A factor that is especially relevant for Switzerland, is the murky growth outlook for the Eurozone, particularly in Germany: Germany’s exporting and manufacturing sectors will likely be uniquely and strongly impacted by weak global demand.

That existing trade wars could further escalate and indeed spread to the Eurozone and Germany poses an additional risk for business growth in Switzerland. A consequence would be an even more pronounced economic slowdown of the global economy, impacting the economy of Switzerland as well. This scenario, however, has not been considered in our forecast.

Switzerland: Cautious economic growth

As a consequence of the global economic slowdown, the outlook for Swiss economic growth already had to be downgraded. The appreciation of the Swiss Franc in the year 2019 has proved to be an additional inhibitor. The currency’s strength is forecast to continue and further slow growth in the exporting sector. By the end of 2019, several leading research institutions project gross domestic growth rates between 0,7% and 0.9%. Looking towards 2020, growth is estimated to be between 1,3% and 1,9%, a significant and palpable economic slowdown compared to 2018 – while a recovery trend is not expected to take effect before the end of 2020. It should be noted, however, that the impact of large sports events reinforces both the slowdown of 2019 as well as accelerated growth in the course of 2020. As many international sports associations are located in Switzerland, their value creation is considered part of Swiss GDP. This means that projected growth in 2020 will see noticeable support from value creation generated in relation to large international sporting events.

A study of industrial development in the Swiss exporting sector presents evidence of an ever widening gap between the sector’s margins. While some exports, especially in the MEMS sector, have shown signs of stagnation or even contraction since early 2018, and while industrial sectors such as watchmaking could barely account for growth, other exporting sectors, in particular pharmaceuticals and chemicals have been thriving. These differences are mirrored in the industrial sectors’ projections of BAK Economics. Showing increased growth for the year 2019, pharma/chemicals are clearly the exception from the general industry trend. All other sectors have experienced reduced growth. While no further growth increase is forecast for the pharmaceuticals sector in 2020, it will still remain the industry with the highest growth rates among all Swiss industrial sectors by far.

A look at the labour market reveals continuing high levels of labour force participation at a low unemployment rate. Yet we start from the premise that weaker economic growth will also result in a slightly higher unemployment rate in the course of 2020.

Canton of Basel-Stadt: Solid growth driven by Life Sciences

Compared to 2018, the Canton of Basel-Stadt, like the rest of Switzerland, is anticipating reduced overall economic growth for the coming year. Compared to other Swiss cantons, however, it’s worth noting that Basel will be able to retain relatively high levels of business activity. For instance, BAK Economics projects cantonal GDP growth of 3,4% for the end of 2019, and 3,0% for 2020. Key factors for the continued solid growth in the Canton of Basel-Stadt include its industry structure, particularly the large share of the relatively recession-proof pharmaceuticals industry in gross domestic value creation.  

While the economic outlook leads us to expect a relatively stable unemployment rate of around 3,0% for Basel’s labour market in the next year of 2020, in terms of overall employment growth for 2020 we anticipate a relative weak number (0.6% according to BAK Economics). 

Sources: BAK Economics Current Economic Forecast October 2019, KOF Economic Forecast Fall 2019 – Global Downturn Hitting Swiss Economy and SECO Konjunkturtendenzen Herbst 2019 (SECO Economic Trends Fall 2019, German only).