Finland’s Jobless Rate Unexpectedly Jumps in March on Recession

Finland’s unemployment rate increased more than estimated to a 10-month high in March as companies in the northernmost euro member respond to waning demand by cutting jobs.

The jobless rate, which isn’t adjusted for seasonal swings, rose to 9 percent last month from 8.7 percent in February, Helsinki-based Statistics Finland said today. Unemployment was estimated to rise to 8.8 percent, according to the median of three forecasts in a Bloomberg survey. The rate was the highest since May 2012, when unemployment rose to 9.5 percent.

“The weak performance in the first half of the year will push up the average unemployment rate for 2013,” Tuulia Asplund, Helsinki-based economist at Svenska Handelsbanken AB, said in a note to clients. “As the economic recovery takes more time to start than we previously expected, the upturn in labor market will be postponed as well.”

Finland’s economy is contracting as demand for its exports wanes and household spending fails to propel output. Companies are now starting to cut jobs permanently, after earlier resorting to temporary layoffs. Industrial production has contracted in six of the past seven months, slumping an annual 6.1 percent in February.

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