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Labour-market Situation in Sweden

Understand the labour-market situation in Sweden before planning to relocate, and be constantly updated on any changes, which will most likely happen.


The weakening of the labour market during September meant that 8,000 employees were given notice and that the number of vacant jobs newly registered with the Swedish Public Employment Service continued to decrease. Despite this, there are still fewer unemployed registered with the Swedish Public Employment Service than a year ago, though the number of people on labour-market policy programmes has increased.


"The most striking thing about the September figures is of course the many dismissals, though 8,000 dismissals in a month is a figure that was exceeded in several months between 2001 and 2005. At the same time it might be worth pointing out that at the nadir 15-16 years ago an average of 15,000 people a month were given notice," says the Swedish Public Employment Service's director Lena Liljebäck.


"Unemployment increased from August to September – something that has not occurred since 1981. We expect the global financial turbulence to put a big strain on the Swedish labour market, resulting in rising unemployment," says Lena Liljebäck.


Since the end of 2007 the Swedish Public Employment Service has been predicting a dwindling labour market in the latter part of 2008. In September the number of newly registered unemployed was 6,000 more than last September.


Fewer job-seekers getting work


In September 49,000 of those registered with the Swedish Public Employment Service started some form of work – a one-year decrease of over 7,000. Of them, 29,000 were unemployed or participating in programmes entailing activity support, including:

* 8,000 under-25s
* 7,000 people born abroad
* 3,000 people with disabilities.


Of those unemployed or participating in programmes entailing activity support, 24,000 furthermore got work without any support. In September 2008, 11% of those unemployed or on programmes entailing activity support got work.


Continued decrease in the demand for labour


The demand for labour is still lower than in previous years. 44 000* vacant jobs were registered with the Swedish Public Employment Service in September – 20,000 fewer than the year before. This decrease applies to nearly all major branches of industry. It is biggest in trade in goods – a decrease of over 50% – and smallest in the public‑services sector, at only a few percent. In terms of contract duration, the decrease has been biggest regarding permanent jobs and longer-term temporary jobs.


Big increase in dismissals


In September 8,000 people were given notice, to be compared with 3,000 last September. The increase applies to all the major industries. Dismissals in industry have quadrupled in one year, and the number of dismissals in construction and trade in goods has tripled.


More unemployed newly registered with the Swedish Public Employment Service


The number of unemployed newly registered with the Swedish Public Employment Service has now started to increase, after a prolonged period of nearly unbroken decrease. In September there were 6,000 more new registrations than last year, making a total of nearly 33,000 newly registered unemployed.


Drop in unemployment on the point of flattening out


Despite the dwindling labour market, there are still slightly fewer unemployed than a year ago. Of the workforce**, 3.1% (nearly 150,000 people) were registered unemployed with the Swedish Public Employment Service at the end of September. This means a one-year decrease of 0.2 percentage units, or 8,000 people. It is the lowest September level since 1990, but the drop from the 2007 level is less than the decrease for previous months this year. For the first time in 27 years the September level is also higher than the August level, and this is entirely attributable to the increase in the number of young unemployed.


Since September 2007 unemployment has decreased slightly for both men and women.

* The number of unemployed women has decreased by 5,000
* The number of unemployed men has decreased by 3,000


There are still slightly more unemployed men than unemployed women – in September 78,000 men and 72,000 women.


It is above all the unemployment figures regarding the oldest, and to a certain extent the youngest, on the labour market that have fallen over the past year. 34,000 18- to 24-year-olds were unemployed, which is 2,000 fewer than last year. The number of unemployed persons over the age of 55 has decreased by 5,000 to just under 20,000.


In September unemployment was lowest in the counties of Jönköping and Uppsala (2.0%) and highest in the counties of Norrbotten and Gävleborg (3.4%). Over the past year unemployment has decreased most in the county of Gotland (0.9 percentage units) and has increased most in the counties of Värmland and Kronoberg (0.3 percentage units).


More people on programmes entailing activity support


In September a total of 1.4% of the workforce (70,000 people) took part in programmes entailing activity support, representing a one-year increase of 16,000. Of those receiving activity support, nearly 4,000 took part in labour-market training and 8,000 in various kinds of preparatory measures (e.g. guidance, rehabilitation and preparatory training measures).


The biggest group receiving activity support, however, comprises participants in the Job and Development Guarantee scheme. It has grown continuously since its inception just over a year ago, and in September there were 44,000 participants. The Job Guarantee for Young People scheme, which started in December 2007, is also growing, and at the end of September it involved 12,000 people.
Regionally, the proportion of people receiving activity support varied between 0.7%**** in the county of Stockholm and 2.0% in the county of Östergötland.


Decreasing number of people in work entailing support


1.7% of the workforce (83,000 people) had various forms of work entailing support, i.e. 13,000 fewer than in September last year. Of those in jobs entailing support, in September there were:

* 12,000 receiving various kinds of employment support, including 4,000 in 'Plus Jobs' (plusjobb), which attract an enhanced form of employment subsidy, 6,000 receiving special employment support and nearly 2,000 in introductory jobs (instegsjobb)
* 71,000 taking part in special measures for disabled people with a reduced capacity for work, of whom 57,000 were in employment entailing a government salary contribution (lönebidrag)


Fewer and fewer people underemployed


In September 40,000 people were registered partially unemployed with the Swedish Public Employment Service. This is 14,000 fewer than for the same month last year.


The number of people on hourly contracts decreased by 20,000 to 58,000.


Long-term unemployment has decreased markedly


Since last year the number of long-term unemployed (people who have been continuously unemployed for at least six months, or for the under-25s at least 100 days) has decreased by 15,000, and at the end of September the figure was 34,000. For young people the percentage decrease is even bigger: from 7,800 to 2,600.

* Job statistics do not cover the entire labour market, since not all vacant jobs are registered with the Swedish Public Employment Service. The proportion varies over time, and is higher during booms than during recessions. At the beginning of 2008 the Swedish Public Employment Service's advertising regulations were tightened up. Together with increased reviewing, this has meant a big decrease in the number of jobs re-advertised.

** The workforce (16- to 64-year-olds) now also includes full-time students who have sought work.

*** A county's participation in programmes is related to its population.


Statistics give us a general idea of employment in Sweden, but accuracy and what statistics imply are always subjects of contention. So do take statistics with a pinch of salt.

Source: Arbetsformedlingen

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