Swiss unemployment hit ten-year low in 2018

There has been strong construction activity in Switzerland over the last two or three years © KEYSTONE / GEORGIOS KEFALAS

The unemployment rate in Switzerland averaged 2.6% in 2018, a ten-year low, after strong economic growth in the first six months of the year, according to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

This content was published on January 8, 2019 - 09:15

The department said just over 118,000 people were registered with regional job centres during 2018 - 17.5% fewer than the previous year.

"The latest figures indicate that the Swiss economy is doing well and that the labour market situation is good," SECO said in a statement on TuesdayExternal link.

The unemployment rate declined constantly from May 2017 after a long period of stagnation around 3%. Most of last year’s fall occurred during the first half of the year.

Unemployment rose again slightly in November and December. At the end of the year, SECO recorded 119,661 registered unemployed, up 8.3% compared to the previous month but down by more than 18% versus 2017.

Earlier this year, however, SECO said its lower unemployment figures came with a caveat: a new, automated system for collecting information across Swiss job centres may be responsible for the bigger-than-expected decrease.

+ How do you go about finding a job in Switzerland? 

The Swiss economy performed well last year, especially in the first six months, but contracted unexpectedly in the third quarter, hit by weak domestic consumption and an economic downturn in Germany, its biggest trading partner.

SECO expects economic growth to average 2.6% in 2018, short of the 2.9% forecast in September.

The government says growth is likely to slow to 1.5% in 2019, compared with previous expectations for 2%. In 2020, it expects growth to pick up to 1.7%. Meanwhile, SECO forecasts unemployment rates of 2.4% for 2019 and 2.5% for 2020.

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