Jobless rate drops as economy picks up

Fewer people claimed unemployment benefit in March Keystone

The Swiss jobless rate fell to 3.6 per cent in March – the lowest level in six months, according to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco).

This content was published on April 7, 2006 - 11:06

Experts forecast a further drop in unemployment figures later this year as the Swiss economy continues to show signs of recovery.

At the end of March 143,249 people were registered as unemployed – down 6,850 or 0.2 per cent compared with February, a Seco statement said on Friday.

It is the biggest seasonal drop in six years, according to Jean-Luc Nordmann, Seco's deputy director.

The number of job vacancies increased slightly to 11,721 in March while the number of registered job seekers dipped by just over 5,900 to 212, 486.

The unemployment rate is higher in the French- and Italian-speaking parts of the country - 5.1 per cent on average - than in the main German-speaking region.

The age group of the 15-24 year old people are still hardest hit by joblessness at 4.6 per cent.

Upward trend

Analysts welcomed the latest figures. "The decline was substantial compared to what we had in the first half of last year," said Bernard Lambert of private bank Pictet.

For Roland Kläger of Credit Suisse, the data is better than expected.

"It's an indication of the strength of the recovery and a continuation of what we have been seeing. Companies are hiring more staff in anticipation of more business."

For his part, Janwillem Acket of Julius Bär sees a confirmation of the upward trend.

"The major feature is that seasonally adjusted figure continues to retreat in absolute terms. This is underpinning domestic consumption which has been revving up again lately," he said.


The Seco statement came just a day after three of Switzerland's major economic research institutes published their latest growth and unemployment forecasts.

The Zurich-based Institute for Business Cycle Research (KOF) expects the jobless rate to drop to 3.4 per cent – in line with the Seco predictions for the current year.

Both Basel Economics (BAK) and the Créa Institute in Lausanne forecast a drop to 3.5 per cent.

Other prognoses range from 3.3 to 3.9 per cent for 2006.

KOF and BAK on Thursday also revised upwards their growth forecasts to 2.1 per cent and 2.0 per cent respectively.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Unemployment rate March - 3.6% (seasonally adjusted 3.5%)

Forecast for 2006:
Seco – 3.4%
KOF – 3.4%
BAK – 3.5%
Créa – 3.5%
UBS – 3.4%
CS – 3.3%
OECD 3.9% (November 2005)

End of insertion
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