The unemployment rate in Switzerland has reached a new nadir – just 2.4%, according to latest official statistics. The number of jobseekers is the lowest since the financial crisis.
The statistics, published by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) on Thursday, show that the numbers of unemployed turning up at job centres fell by 9% last month, bringing the overall unemployment rate down from 2.7% to 2.4%.
This is the lowest figure since September 2008, when the financial crisis hit much of the global economy. The lowest unemployment rate in Switzerland in the past two decades goes back to mid-2001, when it reached 1.5%.
SECO nevertheless said that the numbers come with a caveat: a new, automated system for collecting information across Swiss job centres may be responsible for the bigger-than-expected decrease.
However, it also wrote, the new methods likely only lead to a margin of error of some 0.1%; “the downward trend in unemployment due to the healthy [Swiss] economic situation remains therefore clear”.
According to economist Samy Chaar, quoted by the Swiss News Agency, these figures appear to bring Switzerland closer to a period of maximum employment; a situation usually associated with rates of around 2%.
At this point, he explained, remaining unemployed workers are so due to an incompatibility with the job market, which can lead to a shortage of skilled workers, something which can have a positive effect on salaries and thus spur inflation.
It can also lead to increased pressure to seek skilled labour from abroad, something Chaar says has been the “reality in Switzerland for the past 30 years”.
Currently, however, Swiss businesses are constrained by a 2014 national vote that set limits on immigration from surrounding European countries, and subsequent regulations giving priority to local unemployed.