The latest figures point to a considerable increase in the percentage of the unemployed born abroad, compared with six years ago. In January 2005, 22 percent of those out of work registered at the employment service were born outside Sweden. That figure has now reached 35 percent, according to Dagens Nyheter’s report.
In real terms, this means that of the 372,389 people registered as out of work at the employment service, 132,241 are foreign-born, marking a serious underlying trend and raising awkward questions about Sweden’s much publicised integration policies.
In the Stockholm region meanwhile, the employment gap is even greater, at 24.5 percentage points between the 272, 000 people born in a non-Nordic country and the region’s 1,086,000 natives.
Hillevi Engström, Sweden’s employment minister is aware of the challenge.
“We use the official figures from Statistics Sweden (Statistiska Centralbyrån, SCB) every month, but the gap between the native and foreign born unemployed is worrying and must be reduced,” she told DN.
One reason for the rise among the group of foreign-born job seekers is the increase in immigration between 2007 and 2009, which coincided with the financial crisis when many jobs in manufacturing were lost.
Nevertheless, Hillevi Engstrom, Erik Ullenhag and Tobias Billström promised at a joint press conference in 2011, that the gap in the labour market between immigrants and native Swedes would be reduced during the current mandate period.
“The gap must be reduced by 2014. I am working with the minister for integration and the migration minister on this challenge. We must remember that we had the worst economic crisis in 100 years during the period,” she told DN.