What we do

«The Department for Economic Affairs sees to the promotion and development of the Canton of Zurich as an attractive economic and living environment in the area of traffic, the economy and labour.»


The competitiveness of Zurich as an economic area depends largely on a future-oriented and lasting railway, road, air and non-motorised traffic infrastructure. In the Department for Economic Affairs, we deal with the important task of the strategic planning and controlling (management and control) of traffic.

The mandate of the Department for Economic Affairs in the traffic area

Planning and control of total traffic

A long-term, thorough planning of the development of transport is done under consideration of the environment, demographic and workplace developments, spatial planning, the changes in terms of leisure behaviour and, of course, limited financial means. All these aspects lead to the total transport concept which forms the basis for long-term developments of the traffic network. The Department for Economic Affairs is competent in the field of implementation and further development of the total transport concept. In addition, we look after the details of the regional total transport concept as well as of the agglomeration programme «urban areas and transport».

Planning of traffic infrastructures

Infrastructure planning takes place under the umbrella of the Department for Economic Affairs. Our experts develop specific projects (e.g. bypass roads), taking into consideration of the needs of municipalities, planning regions and other authorities and offices. It also deals with the coordination of all projects and their funding and sees to the fact that the canton can safeguard its interests regarding trunk roads in the area of the canton.

Representation of interests in the Airport and air traffic areas

Zurich Airport plays a major role as a Swiss airport and is of outstanding importance for the economy and transport in Switzerland and in the metropolitan area of Zurich. The Canton of Zurich is the principle shareholder of the Flughafen Zürich AG and thus also exerts its influence in terms of the business strategy of the airport. The ownership strategy decided by the Government Council defines the general orientation of the representation of interests; the controlling of participations serves the purpose of control and monitoring. The Airport and Air traffic Division manages the Zurich Airport participation. Further tasks: Monitoring the adherence to approach and departure routes and to the rules applicable to night flights, assessment of applications of the Flughafen Zürich AG to the federal government concerning changes to the position and length of runways or modifications of the operating regulations with substantial consequences on aircraft noise emissions, periodic surveys, analyses, and reports on the Zurich Noise Index.

Management of public transport

The Zurich Transport Authority ZVV (public transport) is under the administration of our Department. Carmen Walker Späh, the Head of the Department for Economic Affairs chairs the Transport Council, i.e. the ZVV Board of Directors. The Zurich Transport Authority ZVV provides public transport for the entire canton and for its surrounding municipalities. It also coordinates, manages and funds the S-Bahn trains, tramway and bus lines, waterway links and mountain railways.

Further tasks

Under the umbrella of the Department for Economic Affairs, cantonal authorisations for the professional transport of passengers by motor vehicles or vessels as well as by aerial cableways, inclined lifts, and ski lifts are issued. We also process building applications for private and public construction projects along trunk and national roads and manage the building lines along national roads.


The Department for Economic Affairs supports the aim to promote and develop Zurich as an attractive business location in Europe. Our Department provides services that contribute to a positive economic climate for companies.

We support the quick and lasting reintegration of job seekers, monitor accident prevention and preventive medicine in companies, the enforcement of flanking measures and we promote publicly assisted housing.

The Department for Economic Affairs' mandate in the areas of the economy and labour

Promotion of Zurich as a business location

We are the Center of Excellence for questions pertaining to the location, settlement and founding of companies in the Canton of Zurich. The Department for Economic Affairs is committed to minimising red tape for companies. To promote future-oriented sectors in the Canton of Zurich, we speed up the networking of companies of the same sector throughout the value chain.

Issuance of work permits

The Department for Economic Affairs checks and issues work permits for foreign workers in the Canton of Zurich who do not benefit from the free of movement of persons applicable to Switzerland and the EU. Amongst other things, it checks the usual local and sectoral wage and working conditions.

Reintegration of job seekers in the labour market

The regional employment centers (REC) under our supervision have close contact to employers and private employment agencies. We want to integrate job seekers into the labour market in a quick and lasting fashion. We also make sure that a sufficient amount of high-quality offers for further qualification is made available to the job seekers at the right time. The Office for the self-employed is geared towards the needs of future small businesses. It provides counselling on the topic of self-employment and offers strategic analysis.

Unemployment insurance benefits

In the Canton of Zurich, we see to a harmonised enforcement of the Federal Law on Unemployment Insurance and prevent the wrongful payment of daily benefits. The unemployment insurance scheme of the Canton of Zurich takes care of benefit payments in case of unemployment, short-time work, bad weather and insolvency.

Monitoring working conditions

The main focus of our activity lies in the prevention of accidents at the workplace and occupational illnesses through controls, expertise, authorisations and counselling of authorities, employers and employees. In addition, the monitoring of the work and rest periods under the Labour Law as well as the temporary work permits under it is part of our core tasks. In the framework of the flanking measures regarding the free movement of persons and the fight against illegal employment we control employer-employee relationships and the adherence to the applicable working and wage conditions as well as the legal registration and authorisation obligations in order to guarantee fair conditions for employers and employees on the labour market.

Promotion of residential construction

One of the challenges for the Canton of Zurich is making available affordable apartments for rent for persons with low income and few assets. We support publicly assisted housing with low-interest loans or payment of the deposits.

Guaranteeing the National Economic Supply

Provisions as to the guaranteeing of basic supplies in times of crisis are jointly planned by the state and the economy. The responsibility for its concrete implementation lies with the Office of National Economic Supply of the Canton of Zurich. The measures focus primarily on the rationing of food and fuel supplies as well as on heating oil management.