The average unemployment rate in Switzerland was 2.9 per cent in 2012, slightly up on the 2011 level of 2.8 per cent, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) has reported. The rate puts 2012 among the best three years of the past decade.
This year ended at a rate of 3.3 per cent with 142,309 people registered as unemployed in December, in a population of eight million. The equivalent eurozone figure for November was 11.8 per cent.
“Despite a particularly demanding international market environment and the strong franc, the Swiss employment market has managed to hold up pleasantly well over most of the year,” Seco noted.
There is significant regional variation in the figures with most of the French- and Italian-speaking cantons seeing a jobless rate of more than five per cent and the German-speaking part of the country generally coming in under three per cent.
According to a report published last month by a Seco expert group, there is likely to be a temporary downturn in the labour market in the coming year.
Recent surveys indicate that many companies – both in industry as well as in the services sector – are less willing to hire new employees. Growth in employment could therefore come to a temporary halt over the coming quarters until the economy starts to recover strongly again.
The expert group predicts annual average unemployment rates of 3.3 per cent for 2013 and 2014.
European Union unemployment figures for November 2011 show a rate of 11.8 per cent of the active population for the eurozone, a new record. Almost 19 million people were without a job that month, two million more than the previous November.
At 26.6 per cent, Spain had the worst jobless level. The rate reached 26 per cent in Greece in September 2011, the latest month for which figures were available.
The EU countries with the lowest unemployment rates include Switzerland’s neighbours Austria (4.5 per cent) and Germany (5.1 per cent). Meanwhile the United States recorded a rate of 7.8 per cent in December.
swissinfo.ch and agencies