Swiss jobless reach 12-year high _ a mere 4.4 pct

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BERN, Switzerland (AP) — Swiss unemployment reached its highest point in over a decade last month, although compared to most other countries things are still looking good.

The federal economics office said Friday that the jobless rate climbed to 4.4 percent in December, the highest it has been since March 1998.

It was 4.2 percent in November and below 3 percent as recently as 2008.

The economics office attributed the December rise to seasonal factors, and noted that foreigners were over-represented among the jobless with an 8.6 percent rate.

Unemployment in Switzerland is expected to rise this year to nearly 5 percent, the statement said.

The Swiss economy emerged from a yearlong recession in the third quarter last year, with real gross domestic product increasing 0.3 percent. Figures have yet to be released for the October-December period.