The number of people registered as unemployed in Switzerland dropped slightly last month, with the official jobless rate at 3.1 per cent.
The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) said on Monday 121,725 people had registered as unemployed, down 1,112 from the previous month.
It is the lowest level since November 2002 (2.8 per cent), but experts said the figure could increase again this year with more school leavers and apprentices coming onto the job market in the coming months.
The sixth consecutive drop was the result of the Swiss economy picking up, said Jean-Luc Nordmann, head of Seco's labour division.
The group of 15 to 25-year-olds were particularly affected by unemployment with the jobless rate jumping from 3.6 per cent to 3.9 per cent in July.
The region of Geneva recorded the highest jobless rate in the country – 6.9 per cent, while the rural canton of Uri in central Switzerland registered the lowest rate with 0.7 per cent.
In July the number of job seekers also dropped by nearly 3,000 to 186,936 while the number of job openings dropped by just over 1,000 to 11,529.
Nordmann said he expected the average unemployment rate at the end of the year to rise to 3.3 per cent, before dropping to 2.8 per cent in 2007.
He said it was a positive sign that the number of hours lost as a result of short-time work plummeted by 23 per cent in June compared with May.
However, there has been a slight increase in the number of people who are no longer eligible for unemployment benefit and still haven't found a new job. In May, 2,962 lost their benefits, 764 more than in the previous month.
Under Swiss law amended in 2002, unemployment benefits are limited to a maximum of 400 days.
swissinfo with agencies
Workers in Switzerland must pay unemployment insurance for a minimum of 12 months before they can claim benefits.
Benefits total 80% of the claimant's last salary, and are paid for a maximum of 400 days.
Claimants who still cannot find work then normally qualify for other social welfare benefits.
Until 2002, workers qualified for unemployment benefits after just six months and could claim benefits for two years.
July job market figures
Official unemployment rate: 3.1%
Number of jobless: 121,725
Number of job seekers: 186,936
Number of job openings: 11,529
People doing short-time work: 558 (June data)
People losing unemployment benefits: 2,962 (May data)