The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate increased to 2.6 percent from 2.5 percent in March, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs in Bern said today. That's the first gain in the rate since September 2003. Economists expected an unchanged rate, according to the median of 14 estimates in a Bloomberg survey.
UBS AG, Switzerland's largest bank, this week said it plans to cut 5,500 jobs worldwide after writedowns of almost $38 billion, and chemical makers Clariant AG and Ciba Specialty Chemicals AG are reducing headcount as record oil prices eat into profits. Swiss manufacturers have scaled back expansion plans for the coming months, an April survey showed.
So far, Switzerland's economy has not let up. Growth hit the fastest pace in more than two years in the fourth quarter, giving momentum to the start of this year. Exports rose the most in more than a year in March as orders from Asia and Europe offset the impact of the U.S. slowdown.
The number of registered unemployed fell by 2,897 from March to 100,880, today's release showed. The number of vacancies rose by 453 to 15,488, the government said.
The Swiss economy ``will not remain unscathed'' from a slowdown in global growth and financial-sector losses caused by the U.S. housing crisis, Swiss National Bank President Jean- Pierre Roth said April 25. While Switzerland's economic performance is still ``excellent,'' this year is ``fraught with considerable uncertainties,'' he said.
After expanding 3.1 percent last year, the Swiss economy will probably grow between 1.5 percent and 2 percent this year, the SNB estimates.