Swedish opposition laments ‘jobless growth’

There has been a mixed reaction to the Swedish government's growth forecasts for the next two years, which were presented by finance minister Pär Nuder on Wednesday.

The government predicts growth of 3.6% this year and 3% in 2007.

“The international economic outlook appears stronger than in the autumn and households are more optimistic than they have been for a long while,” said Nuder.

The Christian Democrats’ economic spokesperson Mats Odell was pleased with the forecast but saw a downside.

“Unfortunately Sweden is the world leader in jobless growth. No other economy is producing so few jobs per growth point as Göran Persson’s,” said Odell.

As well as the growth forecast, the finance minister announced plans to boost the labour market by increasing the geographic mobility of the young.

“We are going to propose job seeking benefits for young people. There will also be more training for jobs with a shortage of skilled labour and investment in certain groups such as the young and the old,” said Nuder.

The package will also include resources for increasing integration in the job market.

The Centre Party’s economic representative Roger Tiefensee supported the idea of targeting youth unemployment, but argued that the government is muddled in its measures.

“How many times has the government come up with packages of labour market policies?” he said.

“I believe that you need to get away from packages of policies and instead look at the fundamental structures and make them work – so that companies dare to employ people.”

The main opposition party, the Moderates, said that the government was lacking real ideas for creating new jobs.

“The government’s policies do not affect those who are isolated from the regular job market,” said economic spokesman Mikael Odenberg.

“There are no proposals which make it more profitable to work and no proposals which create a better business climate and more jobs. Instead the government continues to invest in measures which hide the real rate of unemployment.”

However, the government’s proposals were better received by their coalition partners.

“There are many aspects which we approve of,” said Alice Åström, the vice chairman of the Left Party.

The Green Party’s spokesperson Maria Wetterstrand said she was positively surprised that Pär Nuder’s list of promises was not longer.

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