Open unemployment down to 4 per cent

Figures released today by the Swedish Employment Service show that Sweden has finally attained the Social Democrats' goal of 4 per cent open unemployment. But the news comes almost two months after the party was voted out of government.

At the end of October, 181,000 people, or 4 per cent of the workforce, were openly unemployed. This time last year there were 48,000 more people registered as unemployed, giving a total figure of 5.1 per cent.

Labour market programmes meanwhile accounted for a further 155,000 people, or 3.4 per cent, of the total workforce this October. There were 25,000 less people in such programmes at this stage last year.

A large part of the dip in unemployment can therefore be explained by the Employment Service’s attempts to move unemployed people into labour market programmes.

For example, Expressen reports that the Employment Service managed to place 5,000 people in so-called “plus jobs”, a form of labour market programme, during the last month in which it was still possible to do so.

A genuine increase in job availability is also a major contributory factor to the lower rate of unemployment. There were 21,000 more jobs advertised at the country’s state-run employment agencies this year compared to the same period in 2005.

“Vacancies are continuing to increase at a record pace month after month, and the level of redundancies is now quite low,” said Bo Bylund head of the Swedish Employment Service.

Redundancy notices this October amounted to 3,700, marginally lower than the figure for last October.

It is however likely that open unemployment will soon begin to rise again. Expressen reports that the Employment Service will reduce the number of places available in labour market programmes from 155,000 to 90,000 next year.

Jobs in Sweden