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Wednesday, April 16, 2014  

EU unemployment woes rise as more firms cut jobs
STOCKHOLM Companies as diverse as telecom equipment group Ericsson, bank ING and steel group Kloeckner announced big job cuts on Wednesday as an economic slowdown and uncertainty spread across some of Europe’s strongest economies.

Even companies in Nordic states such as Sweden, widely seen as a safe haven from Europe’s debt woes, have been forced to adjust in the face of falling demand.

Ericsson, the world number one mobile telecoms equipment maker, said it would cut nearly 9 per cent of its staff in Sweden. Troubled Danish wind turbine maker Vestas said it would make a further 3,000 job cuts and garden equipment maker Husqvarna announced 600 job losses.

Euro zone unemployment rose to new record highs in September, with 18.49 million people without work, up by 146,000 from the month before, according to Eurostat.

In the financial sector, Swiss giant UBS already plans to cut 10,000 jobs, and German newspaper Die Zeit reported on Wednesday that Commerzbank, Germany’s second biggest lender, may cut between 5,000 and 6,000 jobs.

The largest Dutch financial group, ING, said it was to cut 2.5 per cent of its workforce.

“Operating conditions were persistently challenging during the third quarter due to weak economic fundamentals, the low interest rate environment and financial market volatility,” ING said.

Elsewhere, German steel distributor Kloeckner & Co. said it would shut down about one-fifth of its sites and cut 1,800 jobs, more than the 1,300 it last said would go. The losses are equivalent to 16 per cent of its workforce.

The announcement by Ericsson of the loss of 1,550 of its 17,786 staff in Sweden showed that the problems of the euro zone are spreading and affecting the biggest Nordic economy, which had previously outperformed other countries in Europe.

Reuters
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