Vacancies increase in first quarter

After seven straight quarters of a steady decline in the number of available jobs, the demand for labour has increased in the first quarter.

In the first three months of this year, the number of job openings rose by 16 percent, or 44,100, of which 33,200 were in the private sector, according to Statistics Sweden (Statistiska centralbyrån, SCB).

The number of job vacancies increased in the private and public sectors at 21 percent and 5 percent apiece in the first quarter. Within the manufacturing and extraction industries, the number of available jobs increased by 49 percent.

“The number of employees increased mainly in the culture, entertainment and recreation sector, as well as in health care. Gross pay also rose in those industries,” wrote SCB’s Anders Eklund and Maria Nilsson in a press release.

The acute labour shortage in the private sector in terms of vacancies amounted to 11,000 positions, an 18 percent rise from 2009.

However, the number of those employed fell by 1.5 percent to 3.94 million people. During this period, the manufacturing sector lost 53,200 jobs. The number of employees working in manufacturing decreased by 8.9 percent from the same quarter last year.

“The decline in the manufacturing sector remained strong, but the rate of decline has slowed,” wrote Eklund and Nilsson. “At the same time, the number of vacancies has increased, even in the manufacturing sector.”

Gross pay grew by 0.6 percent, with a 1.3 percent increase in the public sector and 0.4 percent in the private sector, according to SCB. The number of those employed in the private sector decreased by 1 percent and in the public sector by 2.6 percent.

The public sector workforce shrank by 2.6 percent in the first quarter compared with 2009. The number of employees fell within municipalities and counties, but increased in the federal sector.

The largest decrease occurred in the municipal sector, where the decrease amounted to 4 percent. In counties, the decline was 2.4 percent, while the number of federal employees rose by 2.7 percent. In the public sector, gross pay increased by 1.3 percent, with all subsectors increasing.

Gross pay fell by 4.8 percent in the first quarter in the manufacturing industries. The decline was noticeable in most sectors. Gross pay and the number of employees fell the most in the transport, machinery and steel and metal industries.

In the private sector, the number of employees fell by 1 percent in the first quarter. Gross pay grew by 0.4 percent. The number of employees in service industries grew by 1.6 percent in the first quarter compared with 2009.

The employment concept of “employees” does not include self-employed people or assisting family members. However, these may be included in the concept of employed in other employment statistics, according to SCB.

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Sweden heads for economic slowdown EU warns

The European Union has warned that Sweden's economy is facing a marked slowdown, with unemployment set to rise above seven percent as companies cut back on investment.

Sweden heads for economic slowdown EU warns
Jobseekers entering an office of the Swedish Public Employment Service back in 2016, when the economy was booming. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT
The August 2019 economic forecast from the European Commission's Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs sees the rate of growth of Sweden's real GDP dropping to one percent next year.
This is slower than what is expected for all but four of the other 28 European Union members, and well below the brisk  four percent rate the country enjoyed back in 2015. 
“Sweden’s economy is clearly slowing down. Domestic demand and investment in particular are weak,” the report read, blaming the insipid domestic demand on a decline in investment in the housing market following years of strong growth. 
The slowing economy had also pushed Swedish manufacturers to hold back on investments in equipment, exacerbating the decline. 
The authors pointed out that planned government spending would do little to pick up the slack. 
“In spite of sizeable spending needs for schools, health care and welfare services linked to demographic developments, general government consumption is set to moderate in 2019 and 2020,” the report read. 
“Costs linked to migration should decrease, whereas new defence and health care expenses, priorities of the 2019 budget, are partially compensated by cutbacks on, among other items, labour market and environmental measures.” 
While the report predicted that growth would start to pick up again in 2021, it warned that this recovery could be knocked off course by bad news internationally. 
“As the Swedish business cycle is closely aligned to that of its main trading partners, a deterioration of the external environment would weigh on the export sector,” it read. 
Real GDP in Germany and Belgium was also predicted to grow by just 1 percent in 2020, while Italy was expected to see a still more anaemic 0.04 percent growth rate. Every other EU country was predicted to grow faster, with Romania seeing the fastest growth at 3.6 percent.