Switzerland's skilled migrant population increases

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Switzerland's population of permanent residents has increased by more than 1 percent in 2007 as a result of a labour agreement with the European Union, according to the nation's federal Statistics Office.

In 2007, over 165,000 people moved to Switzerland, while 90,000 left the country.

The number of people residing in Switzerland as permanent residents increased by 84,800 people in 2007 to 7.6 million. It's the strongest annual demographic growth since the early 1990s.

The statistics agency said that the main reasons for the rise in permanent residents were the favorable economic situation in Switzerland coupled with an increase in immigrants from EU countries.

While not a member of the EU, Switzerland has a number of bilateral accords with the 27-member bloc, including agreements related to labour movement.

In 2007, Switzerland relaxed labour restrictions for citizens of European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries. Today only Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein remain members of EFTA, although several EU states were formerly signatories of the Stockholm Convention which goverened EFTA.

However, restrictions are still in place for the 10 Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007.