NEUCHATEL, SWITZERLAND – Switzerland’s current role as the exception to Europe’s weak economies was underscored again Thursday, with new official figures showing improvements in both the number of people employed and the jobless rate during the first quarter of the year.
The number of employed persions in Switzerland rose by 2 percent from Q1 2011 to Q1 2012. The comparable figure for the European Union was essentially stable, at -0.1 percent.
The unemployment rate, using the ILO (International Labour Organization) definition, remained “almost stable”, declining from 4.4 to 4.3 percent, says the Federal Statistical Office. The EU’s jobless rate during the same period, using the ILO definition, rose from 9.9 to 10.6 percent.
Switzerland had an active workforce of 4.73 million people during the first quarter, a 1.6 percent increase for men with a stronger showing for women, up 2.5 percent.
The percentage increase for foreign workers joining the labour force was greater, at 4.9 percent than for the Swiss, up 0.9 percent. Foreign workers account for more than one-third of active workers, 1.33 million out of a total work population of 3.40m. The increases included workers in all categories of permits..