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Placement centres help the unemployed to look for a job (in new window)

Placement centres help the unemployed to look for a job© Christian Helmle

For a number of years unemployment, at under 1%, was hardly an issue in Switzerland.

Several reasons have been suggested for this stability:
Foreign workers with short-term permits absorbed the impact when economic times were bad Businesses did their best not to make workers redundant during periods of crisis, in order not to endanger the agreements ensuring social peace. There are few "problem" industries (mining, metallurgy) in Switzerland.

However, during the economic recession of the 1990s, the number of jobless rose dramatically, reaching the record level of 5.7% in February 1997 as corporate restructuring led to staff cuts.

A gradual upturn in the economy at the end of the 90s, and a change in the way the figures were calculated, caused the level of registered unemployed to fall to 1.7% in 2001.

Since then the rate has fluctuated. At the end of 2007 it stood at 2.8%.

Unemployment rates vary according to region: the French and Italian speaking areas have higher rates than the German-speaking ones. Women tend to be worse affected than men and foreigners worse affected than Swiss.

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