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Head of Employment Service rejects jobless target

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16:20 CET+01:00
The head of the Swedish Employment Service (AMS) has said that he does not share the government's optimism when it comes to reaching the target of 4% unemployed by the summer.

"Our forecast shows that it's not going to happen in any month in 2006," said Bo Bylund.

Just a week ago, Employment Minister Hans Karlsson said that he thought the government would reach its goal by June.

"I don't know what numbers he's using - you should ask him that. From our November forecast it's clear that there won't be 4% unemployed in any month in 2006," he told journalists at the Swedish parliament on Tuesday.

According to AMS's latest figures, the total number of unemployed in Sweden has increased. The question is when the turnaround will come.

"It depends a little on what you mean by turnaround," said Bylund.

"A kind of turnaround has already happened. Employment increased in 2005 and we have further positive signals of declining redundancies and more vacancies. The forecast is 65,000 new jobs in 2006."

Open unemployment will fall this year, according to AMS.

However, the imbalance - in other words, open unemployment plus the number of people on state-run employment schemes - will increase by around 40,000. An important factor is that the Swedish labour force will grow by 30,000 people this year.

The new jobs will come primarily in the private sector, said AMS. New figures show that demand is greatest in the construction industry, IT and sales, but sectors such as engineering, catering and service will also need more workers.

So far the development of so-called 'plus jobs' has been sluggish but Bylund is hoping for a 'ketchup effect' and reckons there will be 20,000 such jobs in the summer. A special scheme to encourage small firms to take on graduates has not worked at all. Bylund blames personnel companies which, he says, have actively worked against the plan.

He said that he does not feel any particular pressure from the government to show positive figures in an election year.

"No, I feel pressure from myself to deliver good results. The level of unemployment is not my bag - I shall hit the targets which the government has set for us," said Bo Bylund.

A report from the Swedish Institute for Growth Policy Studies shows that comparatively few jobs have moved abroad. According to the institute, somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 jobs were affected by production being moved abroad.

TT/The Local

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