This map shows where you’re most likely to be unemployed in Sweden

Where you live in Sweden can have a significant impact on your likelihood of being unemployed, the latest figures from national employment agency Arbetsförmedlingen show.

This map shows where you're most likely to be unemployed in Sweden
A file photo of a woman working not related to the story. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

While the unemployment rate for Sweden as a whole dropped to 7.8 percent in January 2017 compared to 8 percent a year prior, the agency's stats show that the rate varies between Sweden's 21 counties.

University city Uppsala and its surrounding county has the lowest unemployment rate in the country at 5.9 percent. But a short drive north to Gävleborg sees the rate hit 11.4 percent – the highest in Sweden.

Similarly, Stockholm is the county with the second lowest unemployment rate (6 percent), but a short drive west to Södermanland sees the rate shoot up to the second highest in Sweden, 11 percent.

“The chances of employment vary in different parts of the country. But we can see that those who have an upper secondary school education have a better chance in general. That applies particularly to industries where there is a shortage of labour, like in educational work, construction and IT,” Arbetsförmedlingen's head analyst Annika Sundén explained a press release.

The variation in unemployment rate between Sweden's 21 counties can be observed at a glance with the interactive map below.

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Country of origin also continues to play a significant role in the likelihood of employment, according to Arbetsförmedlingen's stats.

For people born in Sweden, the unemployment rate is only 4.3 percent, but for those born abroad the rate shoots up to 22.1 percent. One explanation provided by the agency is that many people who have moved to Sweden in recent years lack an upper secondary school education, which puts them at a disadvantage when attempting to find a job.

In an interview with The Local Voices last year Sweden's employment minister Ylva Johansson said that discrimination may also be a factor.

The OECD's Economic Survey of Sweden 2017 recently warned that unemployment is growing among foreign-born residents in the country, and that action must be taken to contain the growing income gaps.

In December the Swedish government announced that its economic forecasts will now feature a new measure for tracking gaps in wealth in Sweden.

There were a total of 378,000 people registered at Arbetsförmedlingen as unemployed as of January 2017, a decrease of 7,000 compared to January 2016.

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Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

A reader got in touch to ask how long he had to work in Sweden before he was eligible for a pension. Here are Sweden's pension rules, and how you can get your pension when the time comes.

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

The Swedish pension is part of the country’s social insurance system, and it can seem like a confusing beast at times. The good news is that if you’re living and working here, you’ll almost certainly be earning towards a pension, and you’ll be able to get that money even if you move elsewhere before retirement.

You will start earning your Swedish general pension, or allmän pension, once you’ve earned over 20,431 kronor in a single year, and – for almost all kinds of pension in Sweden – there is no time limit on how long you must have lived in Sweden before you are eligible.

The exception is the minimum guarantee pension, or garantipension, which you can receive whether you’ve worked or not. To be eligible at all for this, you need to have lived in Sweden for a period of at least three years before you are 65 years old. 

“There’s a limit, but it’s a money limit,” Johan Andersson, press secretary at the Swedish Pension Agency told The Local about the general pension. “When you reach the point that you start paying tax, you start paying into your pension.”

“But you have to apply for your pension, make sure you get in touch with us when you want to start receiving it,” he said.

Here’s our in-depth guide on how you can maximise your Swedish pension, even if you’re only planning on staying in Sweden short-term.

Those who spend only a few years working in Sweden will earn a much smaller pension than people who work here for their whole lives, but they are still entitled to something – people who have worked in Sweden will keep their income pension, premium pension, supplementary pension and occupational pension that they have earned in Sweden, even if they move to another country. The pension is paid no matter where in the world you live, but must be applied for – it is not automatically paid out at retirement age.

If you retire in the EU/EEA, or another country with which Sweden has a pension agreement, you just need to apply to the pension authority in your country of residence in order to start drawing your Swedish pension. If you live in a different country, you should contact the Swedish Pensions Agency for advice on accessing your pension, which is done by filling out a form (look for the form called Ansök om allmän pension – om du är bosatt utanför Sverige).

The agency recommends beginning the application process at least three months before you plan to take the pension, and ideally six months beforehand if you live abroad. It’s possible to have the pension paid into either a Swedish bank account or an account outside Sweden.

A guarantee pension – for those who live on a low income or no income while in Sweden – can be paid to those living in Sweden, an EU/EEA country, Switzerland or, in some cases, Canada. This is the only Swedish pension which is affected by how long you’ve lived in Sweden – you can only receive it if you’ve lived in the country for at least three years before the age of 65.

“The guarantee pension is residence based,” Andersson said. “But it’s lower if you haven’t lived in Sweden for at least 40 years. You are eligible for it after living in Sweden for only three years, but it won’t be that much.”