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Swiss jobless rate causes some concern

There are many women among the unregistered unemployed

(Keystone)

Although the Swiss unemployment rate remained unchanged in September, a survey has found that overall the number of jobless is on the rise.

However, officials said that unemployment still remained low compared with other European countries.

Last month the registered unemployment rate remained stable at a non-seasonally adjusted 3.6 per cent, said the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) on Friday. On a seasonally adjusted level it was also unchanged at 3.8 per cent.

"210,999 people were registered as looking for jobs, 774 more than the previous month," said Seco in a statement. In total the unemployed – not including those in employment, looking for a job or in training – was 142,728.

The percentage was in line with analysts' expectations, with predictions of 3.5-3.7 per cent.

Slow upturn

"In this cycle it is taking longer for employment to pick up. As long as the upturn is not secured, firms remain cautious about hiring," said analyst Roland Kläger from the bank Credit Suisse.

"However, the labour market components for other indicators, such as the PMI [purchasing manager index], are sounding a positive note... and we expect unemployment will fall slightly from our estimate of 3.8 per cent this year to 3.6 per cent next year," he told Reuters.

This is the same as Seco's predictions for 2005 and 2006. However, not all analysts are so positive.

The Swiss Institute for Business Cycle Research (KOF) said on Thursday it expected the unemployment rate to rise from 3.8 per cent in 2005 to 3.9 per cent next year. For 2007 it should stand at 4.1 per cent, said KOF.

Slight rise

Friday also saw the release of provisional figures of the jobless tally for the second quarter of 2005 by the Federal Statistics Office, showing a slight rise. A jobless person is defined as an unemployed jobseeker.

The rate stood at 4.5 per cent, compared with 4.3 per cent in the same period in 2004. This year's figure was equivalent to 185,000 people.

The office said the statistics described the same phenomenon as those from Seco, but from a different perspective – hence the differing percentages and figures.

It said that its statistics were based on a study carried out on 50,000 people between April and June this year as part of its Swiss Labour Force Survey.

Experts said this year's rise was due to an increase in non-registered jobless, 78,000 compared with 68,000 last year. This was equivalent to 42 per cent of the unemployed and it was mostly women and young people who were unregistered.

But the office said that in international comparison, Switzerland still had a very low rate of joblessness, with only Ireland having a lower total at 4.2 per cent.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Seco figures are from monthly statistics from regional unemployment offices.

The terms used: unemployed and jobseekers (the unemployed, workers looking for a new job, people in training and on work experience).

The Federal Statistics Office bases its figures on the Swiss Labour Force Survey, carried out annually between April and June on a representative sample of 50,000 people.

Its definition for the unemployed: unemployed jobseekers who are willing to work.

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