Foreigner jobless rate rises again in January

Foreigner jobless rate rises again in January
Photo: Canton of Geneva
The unemployment rate in Switzerland remained at 3.5 percent in January, unchanged from the previous month, but the percentage of expats out of work rose again, figures released by the government showed on Monday.

The number of people registered for jobless benefits edged higher to 153,260 people, up 3,823 from December 2013, the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) said.

But the level of unemployed foreigners in the country jumped significantly to 7.1 percent in January from 6.9 percent the previous month, while the rate for Swiss nationals stayed unchanged at 2.4 percent.

The rate of expat jobless in Switzerland, accounting for almost half the unemployed in the country, has grown every month for the past several months.

The canton of Neuchâtel recorded the highest jobless rate at 5.8 percent, unchanged from December, while the lowest levels were recorded in Obwalden and Nidwalden (1.2 percent).

The rate remained unchanged in Zurich (3.5 percent), while increasing in Geneva to 5.7 percent from 5.6 percent.

The figures emerged a day after Swiss citizens voted to slap quotas on immigrant workers from the European Union, a move that some observers fear could harm the country’s economy because it puts in question bilateral agreements with the EU.

However, a new forecast from UBS, Switzerland’s largest bank, said the country’s economy should continue to grow strongly, at least for this year and next.

The bank on Monday predicted two percent growth for 2014, down only slightly from a previous forecast of 2.1 percent, with a 2.4 percent expansion expected for 2015.

UBS said that domestic spending will fuel the economy and unemployment should decline slightly over the next two years.

The impact of immigrant quotas is not expected to show up for some time, given that these will be negotiated over a period of up to three years.

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