Unemployment up among immigrant youth: report

Youth unemployment among immigrants has risen sharply despite a record number of vacancies in the Swedish labour market.

Unemployment up among immigrant youth: report

Unemployment among foreign-born young people has increased by more than three percent over the past year at the same time as it has declined by ten percent among Sweden-born.

“They are a vulnerable group with a fragile educational background which we have seen find it hard to take advantage of the upswing,” said Tord Strannefors, forecasting director at the National Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen).

More than every fifth young person with an immigrant background lacks high school qualifications and twice as many get stuck in long-term unemployment in comparison with Sweden-born counterparts.

“This is serious. There is a risk that will be excluded from the labor market,” Strannefors said.

Many also feel discriminated against because of their background.

“Sweden has great ambitions for integration. But there is nothing in practice,” said one young job-seeker.

“Employers must get accustomed to having people with different backgrounds in the workplace. Many have never had it, they hire through their own networks and then it is only Swedes.”

The image of the fragmented labor market is both alarming and of concern, according to Sweden’s integration minister Erik Ullenhag.

“If you as a young and foreign-born do not secure a foothold in the labor market the risk is that you feel a very weak connection to society. You feel that that there is no future,” Ullenhag said.

The reasons behind the increase in unemployment within the group is explained by the international crisis and economic downturn, Ullenhag said.

“We know that in a situation where the economy is declining, it is mainly young and foreign-born who are not able to establish themselves or remain in the workforce.”

Ullenhag identified education and schools as having a key role.

“To break the cycle more investments are required. Secondary schools have a key role, as well as an apprentice system that will soon be launched in full,” he said.

Ullenhag also said that a review of the system of income support (socialbidrag) could be required.

“This is a group that is likely to be dependent on income support and there we need to consider whether we can have a clearer line on jobs.”

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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.