Swiss Unemployment Rate Holds at Lowest in Five Years

Swiss unemployment held at the lowest in more than five years in January as companies boosted capacity to meet orders., Bloomberg 2/7/2008 6:50:15 AM

The number of people out of work dropped by 1,046 from December to 100,798 when adjusted for seasonal changes, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs in Bern said today. The jobless rate held at 2.6 percent, matching the median estimate of 16 economists in a Bloomberg News survey.

Companies continue to take on new workers as domestic consumption rises. With global economic growth slowing and Switzerland already close to full employment, companies may raise wages rather than expand their workforces in the months ahead.

More spending on retail items has reduced unemployment in the textile and clothing industry by 19 percent in the past year. The retail sector has 21 percent fewer workers without jobs than in January 2007.

Exporters may see new orders stagnate in the coming three months and even fall in the next six months, the Zurich-based KOF research institute said Feb. 5, citing a survey. On the year, export growth will probably slow to 3.2 percent after reaching 8.8 percent in 2007, KOF said.

For now, growth in India and China has filled order books at Swiss companies such as Holcim Ltd., the world's second- biggest cement maker, and ABB Ltd., the largest builder of power networks. At the same time, rising domestic consumption boosted industrial growth in January even as a slowdown in the global economy loomed.

With more people at work and wages rising, Swiss retailers expect sales to increase further and have broadened expansion plans from December, KOF said. Sales increased for an 18th month in November.

Swiss Unemployment Rate Holds at Lowest in Five Years