There are various ways to measure unemployment. Switzerland’s standard measure looks at the number of people registered with unemployment offices across the country. By this measure Switzerland’s unemployment recently reached a 10 year low of 2.6%.
Today, another unemployment measure was published. It shows a 0.1% increase in unemployment over the fourth quarter of 2018 to 4.6% or 227,000 people.
- Swiss unemployment lowest in 10 years (Le News)
This measure, defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), casts the net wider. It includes anyone without paid work who is seeking paid work and available to start working, a measure that includes the long-term unemployed and under employed.
The ILO measure contains some interesting high level contradictions. In the last quarter of 2018, the number of workers rose 0.8% while unemployment rose 0.1%. Various things, such as people reentering the workforce and immigration, might explain this.
Unemployment among Swiss nationals (3.5%) was far lower than unemployment among foreigners (7.5%). However, EU and EFTA nationals (5.5%) had a rate far lower than nationals from the rest of the world (12.3%).
Comparing the fourth quarters of 2017 and 2018 shows a 2.9% rise in the number of foreigners working in Switzerland and a 0.1% decline in the number of Swiss working. The biggest rises in foreign workers working were among B and L permit holders who had been in the country for 12 months or more (+4.9%) and C permit holders (+3.3%). Employment among recent arrivals – less than 12 months – on L permits fell (-0.1%) as did cross-border workers (-0.7%).
Overall Swiss unemployment (4.6%) was comfortably behind averages for the EU (6.6%) and euro zone (8.0%).
Young people in Switzerland fared worse than average. Unemployment among those aged 15 to 24 rose from 6.9% to 7.3%. The same rates across the EU (14.7%) and euro zone (16.6%) were far higher however. Unemployment among 25 to 49 year olds in Switzerland remained stable (4.6%) as did that among 50 to 64 year olds (3.9%), who were the least likely to be unemployed.
Switzerland reported no figure for unemployed over 64. Odd given there are people over this age looking for work and the ILO definition of unemployment contains no upper age limit.
The unemployment rate was far higher in French-speaking Switzerland (7.6%) and Italian-speaking Switzerland (6.8%). Central Switzerland (3.0%) and Zurich (3.7%) both had much lower rates.
The number of long-term unemployed increased 11% fourth quarter on fourth quarter, rising from 84,000 to 93,000. This group were unemployed for an average of 249 days.
Finally, the percentage of underemployed fell from 7.5% to 7.2% between the fourth quarter of 2017 and the fourth quarter of 2018.