Mauritius 2010 unemployment forecast at 7.5 pct

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June 26, 2010 5:23 AM EST

Mauritius forecasts unemployment in 2010 will increase to 7.5 percent from 7.3 percent last year, official data showed on Friday.

Government statistics showed unemployment in the first quarter of this year rose to 8.4 percent from 8.0 percent during the same period in 2009.

The global economic downturn has hurt demand in the Indian Ocean island's tourism and key export sectors. But analysts say a 10.4 billion Mauritius rupee stimulus package and an aggressive easing of monetary policy have helped the economy weather the crisis better than expected.

"Unemployment is expected to increase by 1,200 from 41,500 in 2009 to 42,700 in 2010," the Central Statistics Office (CSO) said in a statement.

The total labour force in the nation of 1.3 million people is seen increasing by 5,400 to 530,200, according to the CSO.

Finance Minister Pravind Jugnauth said earlier this week economic growth was expected to slow to between 3.5 and 4.0 percent in 2010 from a previous estimate of 4.3 percent, as losses from the euro-zone crisis hamper growth.

Mauritius' Monetary Policy Committee left the central bank's benchmark repo rate unchanged at 5.75 percent on Tuesday, in line with market expectations, citing uncertainty wrought by Europe's debt crisis.

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