The unemployment rate across Switzerland climbed by 0.2% to 3.7% in January, and regional differences were clear. Across French and Italian-speaking cantons the rate averaged 5%, while across the German-speaking cantons it was 3.1%.
The unemployment rate climbed across Switzerland’s French-speaking cantons with Neuchâtel remaining the worst affected. There the rate climbed 0.3% to 6.6%. Geneva was second, rising 0.2% to 5.7%, followed by Jura, up 0.2% to 5.5%. Not far behind Jura were the cantons of Vaud (+0.2%) and Valais (+0.1%) both on 5.2%.
Fribourg (+0.1%) with a rate of 3.2%, was the only canton in the French speaking realm below the national average of 3.7%. Fribourg is however a bilingual German-French speaking canton.
In Italian-speaking Ticino the rate climbed 0.1% to 4.0%.
In the canton of Zurich it was up 0.1% at 3.9%, while in Bern it was unchanged at 3.0%
There has been a difference of around 2% between the rates of unemployment in Geneva and Zurich since 1977. An analysis by a Swiss university found that the unemployed spend 20% longer looking for a new job in Geneva compared to German-speaking Zurich. Researchers site several possible reasons for this: Geneva’s higher percentage of foreigners, higher number of cross-border workers, and cultural differences.
It is worth noting that these SECO unemployment figures are based on the number of people registered with cantonal unemployment offices (ORP). According to at least one local expert, this measure understates the true number of unemployed in Switzerland.
Switzerland has two measures of unemployment. Figures from SECO and the Swiss Statistics Office (OFS). The former is based on the numbers of people registered at cantonal unemployment offices. The latter uses data based on a survey of around 130,000 households. According the newspaper Schweiz am Sonntag, Michael Siegenthaler, a specialist at EPFZ (KOF), thinks the OFS measure is more complete and therefore a better indicator of the number of workers without work.
On 16 February 2017, the OFS published its latest quarterly statistics on unemployment. These show that Switzerland’s rate of unemployment fell from 4.8% in the third quarter of 2016, to 4.3% in the fourth quarter of 2016. In the fourth quarter of 2015, the rate was 4.7% showing a year-on-year improvement of 0.4%. The biggest improvement was among young workers. The percentage of those aged 15-24 out of work fell from 9.8% to 7.5% between Q4 2015 and Q4 2016.