The unemployment rate in Switzerland rose in January to a six-year high. In the first month of 2016 the jobless rate hit 3.8%, up from 3.7% a month previously.
The latest figures published by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) on Tuesday showed that 163,644 people were registered with the country’s network of regional employment agencies (RAV). This is 5,000 more than in the previous month. Switzerland has a population of 8.3 million.
Compared with the same month one year ago, in January there were 12,600 more people without a job. When adjusted for seasonal variations, however, the figures overall had not changed.
Among 15- to 24-year-olds, 21,100 were without employment. The youth unemployment rate hit 3.8% in January, up from 3.7% a month earlier and up from 3.5% the same time a year earlier.
SECO also released figures from last year on the number of companies which had cut their employees’ working hours, rather than making redundancies.
In November 2014, 2,492 people were affected by shorter-working times in 222 companies. In November 2015, the number of people affected rose to 6,349 at 611 companies, a figure that was also an increase on the previous month.
The short-time approach is something that has been seen in particular in the manufacturing industry. On the subject of difficulties facing the sector, Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann said in an interview with the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper that creeping de-industrialisation was a great danger, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses.
Despite increases in efficiency, margins were being squeezed after the so-called Frankenshock, when Switzerland’s central bank abruptly scrapped the cap on its franc-euro exchange rate peg in January 2015.
“It’s a race against time, and not everyone will make it to the finish line,” Schneider-Ammann said.
swissinfo.ch and agencies