Unemployment over the course of the year

„3’992 unemployed persons were registered at the regional employment centre (RAV) in the Canton of Basel-Stadt at the end of March 2017, which are 83 persons less than in February 2017 (-2.0%). This means unemployment rate fell from 4,1% the previous month to 4,0% in the reporting month. Compared to the same month last year (March 2016) the number of unemployed persons rose by 57 (+1,4%).“

The Office of Economy and Labour (AWA) publicizes a short press release like the one above about the unemployment numbers each month, and thus creates sometimes more and sometimes less noise in the local media. Key indicators are the number of unemployed persons at a given time as well as the unemployment rate. They become more meaningful if compared to the numbers of the previous month or compared to the same month of the previous year. This makes seasonal effects visible. The decisive factor for the current state of the job market is not only the health of companies – or the state of the economy – but also the point in time within a given year of the data.

Typically, unemployment rates are highest in January and lowest in July in the Canton of Basel-Stadt. Formative for this trend are first of all the construction sector and also the hospitality industry, which fluctuates heavily depending on the weather. The hotel industry, which generally also shows some strong seasonal effects, is less volatile in the Canton of Basel-Stadt. Hotel occupancy rates in Basel are relatively constant due to the region’s many business travellers. The beginning of summer break has a counter-effect on the traditional seasonal effect with lower unemployment in the summer but higher in the winter. That is because not all graduates find an apprenticeship program or an institute for further education after finishing school in summer. And this leads to a short but strong spike of youth unemployment that lasts until September. With a closer look, this is a recurring cycle happening year after year.

A more accurate picture provides seasonally adjusted unemployment rates. These numbers allow conclusions regarding the current state of the economy. For March 2017 it was 3,9%. For 2017 the Cantonal group of experts predicts that the average unemployment rate in the Canton of Basel-Stadt will be 3,7% according to their November 2016 predictions and based on early indicators of the job market.