Surprise dip in Sweden's jobless figures

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Surprise dip in Sweden's jobless figures
A welder in Sweden. File photo: Bonny Håkansson/TT

Unemployment in Sweden took an unexpectedly large dip in October, easing pressure on the Riksbank to lower interest rates, as new statistics point to a strengthening job market.


In October, 374,000 people, or 7.3 percent of the workforce, were unemployed, according to figures released on Thursday by Statistics Sweden (SCB), down from 7.5 percent the previous month. The decline was unexpectedly large, with analysts predicting Sweden's unemployment rate to remain unchanged, according to a survey carried out by Reuters.
Among young people aged 15 to 24, the unemployment rate was 18.9 percent, or roughly 121,000 people. Nearly half of Sweden's unemployed young people are engaged in full-time studies, SCB explained, adding that the October figure represents a 3.1 percent drop in youth unemployment compared to the same month last year.
The jobless figures caused the krona to strengthen a few öre against both the euro and the dollar, and market interest rates increased slightly as well.
Other figures released by SCB also pointed to a strengthening labour market in Sweden, with the overall employment rate rising by 0.9 percent to 66.2 percent in the last year, the highest level of labour participation by 15- to 74-year-olds since 2001.
"Despite the stagnant economy, the labour market has developed quite well during the past year," Andreas Wallström, an economist with Nordea bank, said in a statement. He added that the figures took pressure off Sweden's central bank to lower interest rates in the wake of figures released earlier in the week that indicated Sweden had entered a period of deflation.


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