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Unemployment rises but is set to come down

There is a slight rise in the number of registered unemployed

(Keystone)

The number of unemployed rose slightly in August, the first increase in six months, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) reported on Friday.

But despite this, economists say that the jobless rate could fall in the coming months as the economy continues to grow strongly.

Although the official seasonally adjusted jobless rate remained steady at 3.1 per cent – unchanged from July – Seco said that the number of registered unemployed at the country's job centres rose by 1,349 to 123,074.

The number of jobseekers fell slightly to 186,654, while the number of job openings rose to 11,782.

Jean-Luc Nordmann, head of Seco's labour division, said he was pleased with the developments.

He noted that August had been affected by seasonal influences, which included school and high education leavers coming onto the work market.

Nordmann said that the labour market situation was becoming more satisfactory. A look back over recent years showed that this year's increase in August was less than in previous years, he commented

This year's rate was well below last August's rate of 3.6 per cent, he said, which was a sure sign that the economy was picking up.

Economists have predicted economic growth for Switzerland of between 1.75 per cent and three per cent for 2006. Seco's own forecast is two per cent.

Looking ahead, Nordmann said he therefore expected the work market to react positively, with the tourism and construction industries creating more jobs in the winter months.

Labour market demand

Analysts also noted the growing demand on the labour market. Vacancies had now reached a level last seen during the boom in 2000, UBS analyst Reto Hünerwadel noted.

"Given the current economic growth and the good business prospects, unemployment will certainly keep falling on a seasonally adjusted basis until the end of the year," he said.

There is optimism among observers that the trend will continue. The Swiss National Bank expects the country to reach full employment with jobless rates below three per cent in 2007.

However, 4Cast economist Raj Gunaratna said while the labour market should improve further, the pace seemed to have declined, indicating that the upturn might have reached its peak.

In related news, the Federal Statistics Office said that negotiations between the country's most important unions and employer groups had yielded average wage increases if 1.8 per cent. This is up from 1.6 per cent in 2005.

Swiss GDP data showed on Thursday that domestic demand had already taken the lead in Switzerland's upturn. Economists expect low unemployment to fuel customer spending in the next months.

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Seco

The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) is the government's competence centre for all core issues relating to economic policy. Its ...

In brief

Youth unemployment remains a problem, according to the Seco figures. The number of 15 - 24 year olds without jobs rose by almost 3,000 in August. The overall unemployment rate for this group rose from 3.9 per cent to 4.5 per cent.

This was, however, a lower rate than last year and young people did not tend stay jobless for long, noted Seco.

But other government figures released on Friday showed that the apprenticeship situation was still critical, with more places allocated but with more young people coming onto the labour market.

end of infobox

Key facts

August jobless rate: 3.1%
Number of registered unemployed: 123,074 (+1,349)
Vacancies: 11,782 (+253)
Jobseekers: 186,654 (-282)

end of infobox


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