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Reinfeldt slams proposal to lower youth wages

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Reinfeldt slams proposal to lower youth wages
08:11 CEST+02:00
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfelt has rejected the Liberal Party's proposal to lower young people's pay in the wake of rising youth unemployment in Sweden, and has urged politicians around the nation to follow suit.

The proposal was put forward by Liberal Party leader Jan Björklund in mid-March.

Björklund urged other party leaders to "be pioneers" and to introduce youth wages, which were proposed to be at 75 percent of a regular starting salary, and aimed towards young people up to the age of 23.

However, Reinfeldt has slammed the Liberal leader's idea in an interview with newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) on Wednesday.

"We don't reduce wages in Sweden, we raise them," he said.

"The Moderate party does not endorse pay cuts. We advocate higher wages and other methods to lower thresholds for groups that have difficulty entering the workforce."

Furthermore, the prime minister has urged other politicians from municipalities around Sweden to also reject the proposal.

However, statistics are not currently in Reinfeldt's favour. Since 2006 when he came into office, unemployment among 20-24-year-olds has increased from 16.6 percent to 18.2 percent, according to Statistics Sweden (Statistiska centralbyrån, SCB).

These figures, according to Björklund, are simply too high.

"It's better that a 19-year-old gets a job, even if it's not as well paid, than that 19-year-olds should have to go unemployed and on social welfare," Björklund said in March.

However, Reinfeldt argued that the problem with Swedish unemployment does not lie within the youth workforce, rather, that Sweden has "structural unemployment" in certain parts of the population, which he lists as the disabled, youth, and especially the foreign born.

He stated that the largest unemployment rate in Sweden is among the foreign born youth, however, that this did not mean there was "mass-unemployment" as Björklund had suggested.

"If you look at the traditional measure of ethnic born Swedes between 20-64, you will see a very low unemployment rate," he told the paper.

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