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Seco official predicts "significant slowdown"

The number of unemployed in Switzerland could increase by more than 25,000 by next year, a State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) economist has warned.

Serge Gaillard, the head of Seco's labour directorate, told Sunday's NZZ am Sonntag newspaper that the number of unemployed would increase to 125,000, or to a rate of 3.2 per cent, within the next year.

Around 96,000 people in Switzerland were unemployed in September, representing an unemployment rate of 2.4 per cent. Some 140,000 could be out of a job by 2010, he said.

"Due to global economic disruptions, we expect a significant slowdown in economic activity in Switzerland," Gaillard told the newspaper. "This will be primarily in the form of noticeably declining exports."

Gaillard, the former chief economist of the Swiss National Unions' Association, also said that economic growth would fall to below one per cent.

The Seco official expressed confidence in the relative strength of the Swiss economy, saying that technical, engineering and scientific jobs would be safer than lower-paying jobs in the service industry, many of which are held by foreigners.


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