Swedish unemployment falls

The Swedish unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent in February from 6.3 percent in January and 6.2 percent in February 2005, Statistics Sweden said on Thursday.

Economists had expected an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent, according to a survey by SME Direkt.

In February 253,000 people were out of work, while in total 4,252,000 people held jobs.

The number of people in government job creation schemes was 140,000 in February, an increase of 8,000 people from the same month a year earlier, the agency said.

In February, Labour Minister Hans Karlsson said Sweden’s unemployment rate was likely to fall to about 4.0 percent by the summer.

The forecast echoes the ruling Social Democrats’ campaign promise before Prime Minister Goeran Persson took office in 1996 to halve Sweden’s unemployment to below four percent.