Unemployment hits four-and-a-half year low
The jobless rate in Switzerland has fallen to its lowest level in over four years, with three per cent of the working population receiving unemployment benefit.
According to labour experts, the strong economy continued to contribute to the decline in the number of unemployed people.
The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) announced on Tuesday that unemployment dropped to three per cent in March, down 0.2 per cent over the previous month.
There were 117,915 people on the unemployment register, down nearly 8,500 over February, the best figures since October 2002. The number of available jobs increased slightly to 13,643.
Young adults benefited most from the improved economic situation, with the unemployment rate for 15 to 24-year-olds falling 0.4 per cent to 3.5 per cent.
The southern cantons of Valais and Ticino saw the biggest decline in their jobless numbers. Geneva remains the canton with the highest unemployment rate at 6.7 per cent.
Serge Gaillard, head of Seco's labour division, said the March result was "very pleasing". While he admitted that the decline in unemployment was partially due to seasonal factors, he pointed out that the better economic situation had had a much bigger impact on the figures.
The lower jobless numbers were no surprise to financial analysts. "All sectors improved, with the service sector showing the biggest decline in numbers of unemployed," said Fabian Heller of Credit Suisse.
The jobless rate is expected to keep on going down. Gaillard reckons it will drop below three per cent in April.
"The economy is doing well and there is plenty of work," he said. "We can expect unemployment to fall again."
Seco has forecast the jobless rate will probably average 2.8 per cent in 2007.
Heller warned that large improvements were unlikely, but added that the trend was still positive.
swissinfo with agencies
A study in 13 German-speaking cantons shows one in five jobseekers has been unemployed for over a year.
Around half these people eventually find a job, but 42 per cent fail in their search and eventually no longer receive unemployment benefit.
Those most affected by long-term unemployment are older and foreign workers, as well as those whose education ended with compulsory schooling.
Those at biggest risk from long-term unemployment are workers in the financial sector and the manufacturing industry.
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