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Swiss jobless rate hits four per cent

Unemployment offices can expect more work in coming months Keystone

Unemployment in Switzerland rose to four per cent in November from 3.8 per cent a month earlier, according to the Swiss economics ministry.

This content was published on December 8, 2003 - 09:27

The data signalled that job insecurity would dampen consumer confidence during the festive season.

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) announced on Monday that the number of registered unemployed had risen by 5,339 to 156,598.

"What is positive is that for the first time since March 2001, we had a seasonally adjusted decline in November," said Jean-Luc Nordmann, head of labour affairs at Seco.

The increase in unemployment was expected, despite signs of recovery in the Swiss economy which is growing again after a double dip recession.

Nevertheless, the domestic market has been weakened by a drop in consumer spending, brought on by job insecurity.

Consumer sentiment improved slightly between July and September, but Seco said last month that shoppers were unlikely to drive an upturn in the export-reliant Swiss economy because of job worries.

"Consumer sentiment is certainly still depressed and this will not change soon," Credit Suisse economist, Thomas Trauth, said in November.

Unemployment stood at 3.3 per cent in November 2002.

Recovery

Seco has said it expects the unemployment rate to continue to rise in the new year, peaking at around 160,000 in January 2004.

It forecasts that the number of people out of work will drop later in 2004 in response to an anticipated improvement in demand for Swiss goods and services.

The Swiss National Bank is expected to keep interest rates at current near-zero levels until a second consecutive quarter of positive GDP results confirms the recovery.

Last month, the Swiss economy showed new signs of life after Seco posted a positive quarterly growth rate for the first time in a year.

New life

The economy grew by one per cent in the third quarter of 2003, slightly exceeding expectations. Economists had predicted an average growth of 0.9 per cent.

Seco still expects the economy to have declined overall in 2003, due to a sharp drop earlier in the year. However, it expects growth to accelerate next year to reach 1.5 per cent.

“A return to significant growth is to be expected in 2004,” Seco said in a statement.

Seco said Switzerland's export-dependent economy had been given a much-needed boost from an upturn in overseas sales to key European markets, such as Germany, Switzerland’s biggest export market.

Overseas sales rose by 5.2 per cent in the third quarter, amid an improving global economy.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The canton of Ticino saw the steepest climb in unemployment of 0.5% to 4.8%
Graubünden followed with an increase of 0.3%.
Geneva remains the worst hit region with a jobless rate of 6.8%.
Zurich’s unemployment rate stands at 4.8%.

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