New data from the federal government provide an answer.
At the beginning of the war, solidarity with the refugees from Ukraine is huge. On the third day of the war, 20,000 Zurich residents gather in the Münsterhof. Mayor Corine Mauch addresses the agitated crowd and assures them that Zurich is ready to take in refugees and enable them to live safely here.
Seven months have now passed. With partial mobilization, the Russian war of aggression has reached a new level of escalation. On the other hand, things have calmed down for the Ukrainians who had to leave their lives and flee to Switzerland.
But who actually came to the canton of Zurich? And how many of the refugees have found work?
Answers are provided by new data from the State Secretariat for Migration, which has been processed by the Statistical Office of the Canton of Zurich.
How many Ukrainians have come to the canton of Zurich?
On March 11, Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter announced something historic: the Federal Council decided to activate protection status S for war refugees from Ukraine. The large flow of refugees from the Ukraine is an enormous challenge for the federal government, writes the NZZ and asks: How many will come?
The data now shows: By the end of July, 59,761 applications were approved in Switzerland – 10,330 of them in the canton of Zurich. This means that there are 6.6 people seeking protection for every 1,000 inhabitants in the canton – which is slightly above the Swiss average of 6.5. Based on the number of inhabitants, the canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden has taken in the most refugees (9.23 people seeking protection per 1,000 inhabitants). Basel-Stadt (8.36) and Ticino (7.95) took second and third place.
Who are the refugees?
At the beginning of March, the canton set up a hotline for people who had fled to Zurich from Ukraine. The cantonal social welfare office organizes a reception center for the refugees in the old barracks near the main train station. It is mainly women and children who sit in the waiting room. There is a reason for this: Men capable of military service are only allowed to leave the country in exceptional cases – for example if they are single parents, have three or more children or are physically handicapped.
The federal data now confirm the impression: Almost 70 percent of people with status S in the canton of Zurich are women. The proportion has remained relatively stable since March.
Differences in gender distribution are evident between the age groups. About half of the male refugees are minors. Minors make up just under a quarter of refugee Ukrainian women. The group of women between the ages of 30 and 50 is particularly large.
How has the number of applications developed?
The rush is particularly great in March and April. Hundreds of people register in the old military barracks every day. Some travel to Zurich with packed cars and pets. Many arrive by train at Zurich main station.
Since May, the number of new arrivals has been falling significantly. While 4,000 people fled from Ukraine to Zurich in March and April, there were still 135 people in July. A trend can be seen from the inventory figures. However, the stock figures do not allow direct conclusions to be drawn about the immigration and emigration per month – they only show a balance sheet at the end of the month.
The same picture emerges when looking at the monthly applications for status S. Most applications were submitted in March, since then the number has been falling continuously. Most applications were approved in April. Since then, this number has also been declining.
A return movement has not yet been observed. This is also shown by the federal data. In July, 88 people lost their S status. However, the number does not allow any direct conclusions to be drawn about how many people have returned to Ukraine. Status S can be revoked if you provide false information during the procedure, endanger the security of Switzerland or have stayed in your home country for a longer period of time. If you move the center of your life abroad, renounce protection or receive a settlement permit, the protection status expires.
If the development remains stable, the number of people with status S in the canton of Zurich should remain stable in the coming months.
Where in the canton of Zurich do most Ukrainians live?
In addition to the canton, the Zurich communities are also preparing for the Ukrainian refugees in March. According to the distribution key, a municipality must accept 5 refugees for every 1,000 inhabitants. However, no families would be separated because of quotas, the president of the Association of Municipal Presidents assured the NZZ.
The figures now show that people with status S are distributed among the individual districts within the canton in proportion to the population. Most of those in need of protection are in the districts of Zurich and Winterthur.
How many of the refugees have found work?
The Zurich Department of Economic Affairs was already prepared in March for some Ukrainians to start looking for jobs. People are wanted in spring in many sectors – for example in engineering professions, in IT, in technology, in medicine or in nursing.
Only about 40 percent of the men seeking protection in the canton of Zurich are of working age (18 to 65 years old). For women, this proportion is almost 70 percent. The employment rate, i.e. the proportion of employed persons among all employable persons, is at a similar level for women (10.3 percent in July) and men (13.1 percent).
The figures show that younger people aged between 18 and 30 found a job more easily (13.7 percent) than older people (7.8 percent).
It should be noted that, according to the Statistical Office in the Canton of Zurich, it generally takes about eight months before an unemployed person can be reintegrated into the labor market. The office also points out that information on employment appeared in the foreigner statistics with a time lag and that some Ukrainians continued to work from Switzerland for their employers in their home country.