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Labour market shows green shoots of recovery

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15:22 CEST+02:00
Unemployment in Sweden in May amounted to 8.5 percent of the workforce with 395,000 registered job-seekers, according to new Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen) figures, which indicate that young people are not as badly off as claimed.

While the figure represents a rise on May 2009 the figures indicate that unemployment has peaked and that the labour market is continuing to show signs of recovery.

"The development is heading as we have previously said, open unemployment is heading down," said Tord Strannefors at Arbetsförmedlingen.

The number of people engaged in labour market training programmes has at the same time increased dramatically.

Unemployment among young people has also declined and Strannefors argues that claims that youth unemployment rests at around 30 percent, forwarded by Statistics Sweden and opposition politicians, is not a real picture of reality.

"It is very much a false picture," he said.

A truer picture is at around half of SCB's figure, he says. When SCB measures it includes all young people who are studying but who would rather be working.

According to Strannefors youth unemployment is no higher now that what is typical in this stage of an economic cycle.

"Youth unemployment is always around twice that of other groups," he said, adding that the group is not the hardest hit.

"Definitely not," he said.

Young people stand to benefit first when the economy starts to recover, excepting those with little education or skills.

In May 2009 there were 331,000 people either unemployed or in programmes, which equated to 7.2 percent of the workforce.

The numbers of newly-registered unemployed are however in decline at the same time as the as more are finding work - the overall increase in unemployment is attributed to a greater number of long-term unemployed.

The number of people aged 18-24-years-old in various forms of labour market training programmes increased from 37,000 to 57,000 people.

If unemployment is shown to have peaked then the fears over projections of 11-12 percent jobless have proved unfounded and prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has recently been keen to stress that 8.5 percent should be considered an historically low figure.

"Historically we have not used the methods we use now to measure Swedish unemployment. We have measured differently from surrounding countries, open unemployment, and this have often been much lower. We now measure the same way as everyone else," he said.

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