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Unemployment rate falls

The number of jobless fell slightly in February, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) said on Monday.

The unemployment rate stood at 4.4 per cent, down 0.1 per cent on January. This is the first drop in nine months.

Overall there were 172,999 registered unemployed in February, down 2,766 on the month before.

Experts said that the data was in line with expectations and that it was an indication that the downturn in the labour market was seeing some respite.

“"There seems to be a stabilisation in the labour market, it may be a first sign that there will be a turnaround in the second quarter," said analyst Jan Poser of Sarasin. "The labour market usually lags the economy by six months."

Many economists, however, expect joblessness to peak later this year and this could weigh on consumer spending.

Joblessness rose in January, but by less than economists had expected.

However, when comparing February 2010 to the same period last year, a big increase in unemployment could be seen – up by 30.7 per cent, said Seco. and agencies

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