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Think tank: cut wages to boost immigrant jobs

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Think tank: cut wages to boost immigrant jobs
10:48 CEST+02:00
The government should work to cut wages in low paid jobs so that more new Swedes can get into the labour market, according to Swedish free market think tank Timbro.

Swedes born overseas are often in work, but not as often as Sweden-born citizens and Timbro has argued in a new report that high wages for jobs requiring little or no formal qualifications are a problem.

"More would have found work if there were jobs with lower wages than there are today," said Jenny von Bahr at WSP Analys & Strategi, the firm commissioned to compile the report.

According to von Bahr the reasoning has its basis in elementary economic theory - cut the price of something then you increase demand.

"The government has ignored this. They have had a one-sided focus on various reception measures," she said, referring to assistance offered to the jobless in the form of training and education in order to break into the labour market.

When asked if a person should be able to survive on their salary, she replied:

"You have to have your first job at some point. Integration increases if you get a job, even if your first is not really well paid," von Bahr said.

Lasse Thörn at the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (Landsorganisationen – LO) did not agree with Timbro's analysis.

"Lower incomes cut purchasing power. If employers have goods to produce they can manage it with the base level salaries that are in place today."

The government has proposed a number of other measures to help more immigrants find work and to improve their integration into Swedish society.

"The discrepancies in the employment level between foreign born and those born in Sweden went up to 11 percent in March 2011," wrote migration minister Tobias Billström, integration minister Erik Ullenhag and labour market minister Hillevi Engström in an opinion article published on Monday in the Sydsvenska Dagbladet newspaper.

"That difference is unacceptable."

In the article, the ministers outline a number of initiatives to improve employment prospects for immigrants, including improved Swedish language training, tax breaks for low-income workers, as well as taking a closer look at how Sweden's welfare system is shaped.

On Monday, the three ministers are participating in a full-day seminar to discuss employment among overseas-born Swedes.

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