Upbeat forecast for most sectors of the Swiss economy

The upswing in the Swiss economy is continuing, according to experts in Zürich. Industrial companies, the service sector and the construction industry registered growth, but there are signs in some sectors the labour market is drying up.

This content was published on February 9, 2000 - 16:48

The upswing in the Swiss economy is continuing, according to experts in Zürich. Industrial companies, the service sector and the construction industry registered growth, but there are signs in some sectors the labour market is drying up.

Businesses believe the economic recovery continued and spread during the fourth quarter of 1999, reported KOF, the economic research unit of the Federal Institute for Technology in Zürich after questioning 5,000 companies around Switzerland in January.

Swiss industry is working at 82 per cent of capacity, and some 85 per cent of producers expect to maintain their employment levels, says KOF. Until 1997 there was a continuous shedding of jobs but the trend has now been reversed.

Exports have been helped by a weaker Swiss franc, by growth in the European Union, and consolidation in the formerly unstable Asian markets.

In the construction sector, which has long been in the doldrums, the mood has also picked up. Larger firms are set to profit from more work, according to KOF.

Retail sector companies expect a continued increase in sales after a strong Christmas sales period.

The prospects are not as good in the hotel and resturant trade. Despite an improved showing in the last quarter, KOF notes that further reductions in personnel are likely.

After a decade in the doldrums, the Swiss economy first showed signs of recovery in 1997 at a time when unemployment was over five per cent. It now stands at just under three per cent.

The head of the research unit, Professor Bernd Schips, said he expects it to drop to two per cent by the end of the year. At the same time a tight job market is already apparent in fields such as computer and communications technology.

The annual rate of GDP growth was 2.4 per cent in the third quarter, up from a revised 1.8 per cent in the second quarter. The fourth quarter figure is due in March.

However, Professor Schips warned that the economy could only accommodate a two per cent annual increase in GDP, otherwise it would have again to resort to more foreign labour.

By Peter Haller


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