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Surprise dip in Sweden's unemployment rate

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15:23 CET+01:00
Unemployment in Sweden shrunk unexpectedly in October, dropping to 8.1 percent of the workforce, according to new statistics. Nevertheless, one in four Swedes under age 25 remain out of work.

According to new figures from Statistics Sweden (SCB), the unemployment rate in Sweden increased by 2.4 percent from October 2008.

Analysts had expected unemployment to rise to 8.4 percent in October, up from the 8.3 percent reported by the statistics agency for September.

Swedish labour minister Sven Otto Littorin welcomed news of the improved jobless rate.

“Somewhat better than we had expected,” he told the TT news agency.

Nevertheless, he remained concerned about high levels of planned layoffs among Swedish employers, even if redundancy notices have dropped considerably in the last year.

“Of course it's good that figures are pointing in the right direction, but we can still probably expect unemployment to climb,” he said.

Overall, 395,000 Swedes were out of work in October, an increase of 115,000 from last year.

At the same time, the number of people employed rose to 4,458,000 people in October, or 63.8 percent of the population, the lowest employment rate of 2009. October's figure is a result not only of lower employment, but also an increase in Sweden's population, according to SCB.

Last October, there were 4,593,000 people employed in Sweden, which corresponded to 66.5 percent of the population.

In addition, the number of long term unemployed, defined as people who have been out of work for at least 26 consecutive weeks, has nearly doubled from 72,000 last year to 130,000, or one third of Sweden's unemployed.

Unemployment among Sweden's young people is also on the rise, with the number of 15- to 24-year-olds out of work jumping by 40,000 to 148,000 over the last year.

The figure means that in the youngest age group more than one in four, 25.7 percent, of people are out of work, an increase of 7.2 percent from October 2008.

Approximately 41 percent of those counted among Sweden's jobless young people are full-time students, however.

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