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Fewer claiming benefits in Sweden: report

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11:55 CEST+02:00
The number of people claiming benefits in Sweden declined for the fourth consecutive year in 2008, according to new figures. But the tide is about to turn, analysts warn.

There were 823,514 people (measured in full-time equivalents) in receipt of various social benefits during 2008, according to new figures from Statistics Sweden (SCB). This represents a decline of nine percent on 2007.

The figures cover those in receipt of payments for sickness, early pensioners, unemployment payments and financial assistance.

Despite the decline the proportion of the Swedish workforce relying on some form of social benefit to meet their bills, amounted to 15.2 percent.

The figure was the lowest since shortly after the outbreak of the crisis years at the beginning of the 1990s but is not expected to hold throughout 2009, according to analyst expectations.

Unemployment has been growing steadily throughout 2009 and the latest SCB figures indicate a 60 percent increase since the autumn 2008.

All of the SCB figures are measured in full-time equivalents - meaning that each statistical person is equivalent to a full-time worker.

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