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Unemployment falls to seven-year low

The number of people unemployed in Switzerland has reached its lowest level for seven years. The number of those out of work averaged 2.7 per cent or 98,600 people in 1999.

This content was published on January 7, 2000 - 16:07

The number of people unemployed in Switzerland has reached its lowest level for seven years. The number of those out of work averaged 2.7 per cent or 98,600 people in 1999.

The figure compares favourably to the previous year, when around 3.9 per cent of the population was registered as unemployed. The number of those registered increased slightly in December, but experts say the rise is not unexpected.

"We normally see a slight increase in winter when employment on construction sites is declining and employment on holiday resorts hasn't picked up yet. So it's absolutely in line with expectations," said Marcus Allenspach, an economist at Cantrade private bank.

"If you look at the figure for the whole of 1999 it is down at 2.7 per cent. That's a marked improvement and it only confirms how strong the economic recovery is here in Switzerland," he added.

Switzerlandf's average unemployment rate is the lowest of any country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

However, the figures mask some considerable regional differences. The breakdown by canton shows four in central Switzerland, Uri, Nidwalden, Obwalden and Appenzell-Innerrhoden with rates below one per cent.

French-speaking western Switzerland and the southern canton of Ticino still have the highest levels. Canton Geneva has the highest rate of 5 per cent unemployment.

Experts say the figures are even more impressive if the total unemployment figure is considered. The total number of jobless - including people doing military service or on government training schemes - fell even more sharply than the headline rate, though no figure was given.

The economics ministry said it expected unemployment to continue falling in the medium term, to reach about 2.1 per cent, or 75,000 people, by 2003.

From staff and wire reports

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