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The peculiar Swiss unemployment rate

Switzerland is in many ways an atypical European country, and that includes its economy. This graph shows the Swiss unemployment rate. Pay particular attention to the scale. Compared with Europe or even most of the rest of the world, Switzerland has a very low unemployment rate. In fact, it is exceptionally low in the first years—so low, in fact, that in some places the line is scarcely visible. If you hover over the line to see the values, you’ll notice that some are even negative. This is due to the seasonal adjustment. And while this graph counts only the registered unemployed, another series counts all unemployed. Although this other series spans a shorter time period, it is not fundamentally different.

Why is Switzerland’s unemployment rate so low? One argument is that its labor market is very flexible. Another is that temporary immigrant worker permits have helped smooth fluctuations. This smoothing seems to have become less effective, though. At any rate, the Swiss secret hasn’t been conclusively explained and needs further study.

How this graph was created: Search for “Switzerland unemployment” and select the first choice. (A slightly different search will get you the employment rate for Switzerland County, Indiana.)

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann

View on FRED, series used in this post: LMUNRRTTCHQ156S

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