ZURICH, March 9 Swiss unemployment is expected
to edge lower during 2017 as sectors hurt by a currency shock
two years ago recover, the country's economy ministry forecast
The unemployment rate fell to 3.6 percent in February from
3.7 percent in January, ministry data showed. The seasonally
adjusted rate, which takes into account factors like weather
conditions, stayed static at 3.3 percent.
The ministry said it expected seasonally adjusted
unemployment to decline to 3.2 percent this year, the long-term
average for Switzerland.
"We don't see an abrupt recovery but a gradual, steady
reduction during the year," Boris Zuercher, director of the
labour directorate, said in a call with reporters.
The improvement in 2017 had been driven by more hiring in
the building industry, helped by a mild winter, as well as more
temporary work, Zuercher said.
There had also been a stabilisation in industry, which was
particularly badly hit by the strong Swiss franc, which makes
Swiss exports to the euro zone more expensive. The value of the
franc soared after the central bank scrapped a long-standing cap
on the strength of the currency in January 2015.
Half of the year-on-year reduction in jobless figures in
February came from an improvement in sectors like watchmaking
and machinery, Zuercher said.
"That is definitely good news," said Zuercher. "We are
seeing a stabilisation there. I wouldn't say it's a turning
point yet, but the figures give hope for the future."
(Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Toby Chopra)