Long-term unemployment is higher than ever in Sweden

The number of people who have been unemployed for over a year has increased by 25,000 compared with a year ago, and more than half were born outside of Europe, new statistics show.

Long-term unemployment is higher than ever in Sweden
While unemployment in general is declining, long-term unemployment is on the rise in Sweden. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Among the long-term unemployed, 98,000 people were born in a country outside Europe. The majority of people were born in Syria, Iraq and Somalia, the Swedish Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen) told The Local.

“Unemployment was affected by the large refugee immigration to Sweden in the mid-2010s,” said Sandra Offesson, an Arbetsförmedlingen labour market analyst. 

“In general, it takes time for new arrivals to establish themselves in the Swedish labour market. Among other things, it is about building a network of contacts and learning a new language,” she said. 

190,000 people, or just over 46 percent of everyone registered as unemployed in Sweden, are classified as “long-term unemployed” – in other words have been unemployed for over a year. This is the highest number since Arbetsförmedlingen began using the term in 2008.

“We have never had so many long-term unemployed. It is serious and long periods of unemployment make it difficult to get a job,” Offesson said. 

“One reason why long-term unemployment began to increase already during the second half of 2019 was the economic slowdown. The development has since been reinforced by the pandemic,” she said. 

In 2016 the employment minister at the time told The Local that discrimination against foreign job-seekers was another major problem.

We have previously reported on Sweden’s record-breaking long-term unemployment numbers. This new report breaks that record again. 

Before the end of the year, Arbetsförmedlingen estimates that 200,000 people will be included in the long-term unemployed group.

But on the whole, unemployment is declining.

At the end of July, a total of 408,000 people were registered with Arbetsförmedlingen. That’s 70,000 fewer compared to July last year.

Youth unemployment has also fallen, from 13.4 percent to 10.5 percent.

Unemployment is lowest on the island of Gotland, at just over five percent, and the highest unemployment is in Södermanland, at 10.4 percent. 

Offesson expects that unemployment overall will continue to decline over the next year.

“The recovery in the labour market will continue and unemployment is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of next year.”

Have you been unemployed for over a year in Sweden? If you would like to share your story with The Local, please email [email protected]. We’ll get in touch if we’re able to cover your story, but we may not be able to reply to all emails.

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