The number of people unemployed in Switzerland rose by more than most economists expected in January 2024.
The rate at the end of January rose to 2.5%, up from 2.3% at the end of 2023, reported the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). A group of economists predicted it would be between 2.2% to 2.5%, placing the actual figure at the top end of expectations.
However, the rate remains low by historical standards. And some of the month-on-month increase can be explained by typical seasonal variations, reported SECO. There is less work in construction, agriculture and the catering industry in the winter months, pushing up unemployment during this period.
At the same time SECO sees the effects of economic slowdown and a downward trend in demand for workers, especially among temporary workers. After an average unemployment rate of 2% in 2023, 2024 is expected to see an average rate of 2.3% followed by a rate of 2.5% in 2025.
The unemployment rate reported by SECO is based on the number of people registered with cantonal unemployment offices. Registration is required to access Switzerland’s generous unemployment payments. However, these run out after two years, after which the motivation to remain registered falls. This means many long term unemployed are not included in the figure, in addition to discouraged job seekers who fall out of most definitions of unemployment.
SECO press release (in French) – Take a 5 minute French test now
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