Jobless rate rises for fourth month in a row
The official Swiss unemployment rate rose in January for the fourth consecutive month, driven by an increase in foreigners out of work, according to federal figures released on Tuesday.
The jobless rate edged up to 3.8 percent from 3.7 percent in December to hit the highest level in more than five years, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) said in its monthly report.
Unemployment among foreigners jumped to 7.6 percent from 7.3 percent, while the level for Swiss citizens increased to 2.6 percent from 2.5 percent, the report said.
At the end of January a total of 163,644 people were registered as unemployed at regional job centres, 5,015 more than in the previous month.
The number of jobless increased by 12,698 (8.4 percent) from January 2015, Seco said.
Foreigners accounted for almost half of the registered unemployed last month (48.6 percent).
The canton of Neuchâtel recorded the highest jobless rate at 6.4 percent (up from 6.1 percent), while the canton of Obwalden had the lowest rate at 1.1 percent (unchanged from the previous month).
The rate in the canton of Zurich, Switzerland’s largest job market, reached four percent, up from 3.9 percent, while in Geneva it climbed to 5.8 percent from 5.7 percent.
Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann, who doubles as the country’s economy minister, warned at the weekend that the days of low unemployment in Switzerland are likely numbered if the Swiss franc continues to remain so strong against the euro.
“We will no longer certainly be able to support a low jobless rate,” he told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.
For many companies dependent on exports it’s a “race against time and not all are going to make the finish line”.
His remarks came a few days after Credit Suisse, Swisscom and General Electric (Alstom) all announced layoffs in Switzerland.
The euro was trading on Tuesday morning at a little more than 1.10 francs on foreign exchange markets, well below the 1.20 level of a year ago.
The Swiss National Bank, which has introduced negative interest rates for large deposits of francs in a bid to dampen interest in the currency, maintains that the franc continues to be substantially overvalued.