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UNEMPLOYMENT

Sweden has lowest EU long term jobless areas

Seven of the top ten regions in Europe for low long term unemployment in 2014 were in Sweden, new EU figures have revealed.

Sweden has lowest EU long term jobless areas
A Swedish employment office. Photo: TT
Researchers looked at the proportion of jobless people across the EU's 28 member states that had been out of work for 12 months or more.
 
Övre Norrland in northern Sweden boasted the best score in the EU with just 14.8 percent of unemployed people looking for work for over a year.
 
Bucuresti-Ilfov in Romania came second, reporting a share of 15.9 percent, followed by six other regions across Sweden, including Stockholm and the west coast area which includes the country's second largest city, Gothenburg (Västsverige).
 
 
The EU average was 49.3 percent in 2014. 
 
Sweden has a number of strategies in place designed to tackle long term unemployment.
 
The country's employment service, Arbetsförmedlingen, describes unemployment benefits as "career readjustment insurance and not an occupational insurance" and those who are out of work should – in theory – be offered help in drawing up a personal action plan to get them back into work.
 
Benefit recipients are entitled to compensation payouts for a maximum of 300 days, or 450 days if they are parents.
 
Håkan Gustavsson, a labour market analyst for Arbetsförmedlingen told The Local on Wednesday that Sweden's success in tackling long term unemployment was thanks to "the long tradition of trying to activate job seekers to a greater extent than in other European countries".
 
But he added:  "We also haven't had the same magnitude of economic crisis as in southern Europe, so it's not the same as in some places like Spain where whole industries have disappeared. So the number of 'structurally unemployed' is lower in Sweden to start off with".
 
The latest EU statistics reveal that the areas in Sweden with the highest rates of long term unemployment are Sydsverige in southern Sweden (10 percent of unemployed persons) and Norra Mellansverige in the north of the country (8.6 percent).
 
The overall jobless rate in Sweden in February 2015 was 7.8 percent, the same figure recorded each month since November 2014. Youth unemployment also remained stable albeit at the much higher rate of 22.2 percent, slightly down from 23 percent a year ago.
 
Last month an OECD report argued that Sweden has weathered the global economic crisis better than most countries but that falling school results, an inflexible labour market, and slow integration of immigrants remained a worry.
 
In getting to grips with stubbornly high youth unemployment, Sweden should “reduce the gap in employment protection between permanent and temporary contracts and increase flexibility in entry level wages," the report argued.
 
EU regions with lowest long term unemployment (in percent)
 
1. Övre Norrland (Sweden) 14.8 
 
2. Bucuresti – Ilfov (Romania) 15.9 
 
3. Mellersta Norrland (Sweden) 16.3 
 
4. Småland med öarna (Sweden) 16.6 
 
5. Västsverige (Sweden) 17.4 
 
6. Stockholm (Sweden) 17.5 6 
 
7. Östra Mellansverige (Sweden) 17.7
 
8. Norra Mellansverige (Sweden) 18.4
 
9. Pohjois-ja Itä-Suomi (Finland) 20.9 
 
10. Nordjylland (Denmark) 21.0

EUROPEAN UNION

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.” 
 
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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. 
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