July 8, 2020 / 6:50 AM / a month ago

Swiss June unemployment rate falls, jobless numbers up 55% from 2019

ZURICH, July 8 (Reuters) - Switzerland's unadjusted unemployment rate fell to 3.2% in June from 3.4% a month earlier, the Swiss government said on Wednesday, still leaving nearly 55% more people out of work than this time in 2019 as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on the economy.

Adjusted for seasonal factors, the jobless rate rose in June to 3.3%, from 3.2% a month earlier, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs said in a statement. The number of unemployed people fell to 150,289 people in June, 5,709 fewer than in May, That is 53,067 more, or 54.6%, than in June 2019.

The Swiss program to compensate people temporarily working shorter hours to avoid mass layoffs during economic lulls have helped avoid deeper cuts, with more than 1 million people benefiting from the scheme.

Still, that has not spared everyone from being left out of work as the new coronavirus has particularly hit tourist enterprises, restaurants and other sectors vulnerable to the pandemic.

Numerous Swiss companies including hearing aid maker Sonova and dental implants maker Straumann have announced job cuts linked in part to downgraded expectations for future business.

Among the hardest hit age groups are 15 to 24 year olds, with 17,317 people getting unemployment benefits, up 7,555 from June 2019. The number of unemployed people between the ages of 50 and 64 was up 41.2% compared to a year ago, to 39,684.

The Swiss job market is improving, based on the number of open positions registered with local employment agencies, more than doubling to 31,919 open jobs, from just 15,218 from May. (Reporting by John Miller; Editing by Michael Perry)

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