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Strong franc Economics minister predicts rise in unemployment

A continuation of strong franc woes will most likely lead to longer queues at job centres 

(Keystone)

The days of low unemployment in Switzerland are numbered, according to Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann. He added that Swiss companies cannot bear more than two years of strong franc woes. 

After the announcement of job cuts at Credit Suisse, Swisscom and Alstom, "more bad news is definitely on its way", said the economics minister in an interview published in the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper. 

Many companies continue to be under pressure due to the strong Swiss franc. 

"We can no longer support a low unemployment rate," said Schneider-Ammann, who also holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year.

He cited two main problems for Swiss job prospects: a strong franc that refuses to weaken against the euro and embattled firms forced to sacrifice their profit margins. 

"One day or another, the money to invest and innovate will run out," he said. This will hurt the competitiveness of Swiss firms. 

"It's a race against time and not all will rally to the finish," he concluded. 

The unemployment rate in Switzerland rose sharply in December 2015, from 3.4% to 3.7%. With 158,629 registered job seekers at the end of 2015, unemployment is at the highest level since April 2010. The average annual unemployment rate rose to 3.3%, an increase of 4.4% over last year, according to figures released in January by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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