On Sunday, voters in Switzerland overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $25 an hour. The plan would have made Switzerland’s minimum wage the highest in the country, but it was voted down by more than three quarters of voters in a referendum held Sunday. As such, Switzerland will continue having no minimum wage at all.
While $25 an hour for unskilled work is unfathomable by American standards — minimum wage in the U.S. stands at $7.25 — the plan wasn’t as crazy as it sounds.
For one, despite enjoying no minimum wage laws, 90 percent of Swiss workers already earn more than $25 an hour. In addition, prices are much higher in Switzerland than the U.S., so $25 simply doesn’t buy as much as it does in America. When purchasing power is taken into account, Switzerland’s plan would have been roughly equal to upping the U.S. minimum wage to $14 an hour — which is actually less than the $15 an hour minimum for which many American progressives are currently pushing.
Nevertheless, the Decent Salary Initiative was opposed by 76.3 percent of voters in Sunday’s referendum, according to the final tally.
Despite having no minimum wage, Swizterland’s unskilled workers remain in better economic shape than their American counterparts. Average household income in Switzerland is twice as high as in the U.S. ($6,800 per month versus $4,300), and the country’s unemployment rate, 3.2 percent, is one of the lowest in the world.