Unemployment falls among immigrants in Sweden

More and more foreign-born job-seekers are getting a foot into the Swedish labour market, new statistics suggest.

Unemployment falls among immigrants in Sweden
One group in particular has seen its jobless rate drop. Photo: Izabelle Nordfjell/TT

The number of people registered as unemployed decreased by 18,000 people between February last year and this year, with the unemployment rate falling from 7.4 percent to 6.9 percent last month, according to new stats by Sweden's national employment agency Arbetsförmedlingen.

The biggest drop was seen among men; the number of unemployed men decreased by 14,000 people to just below 185,000. Meanwhile the number of unemployed women fell by 4,000 to around 164,000.

Annika Sundén, head of analysis at Arbetsförmedlingen, said one major reason behind the drop was that more non-European male new arrivals were now finding jobs, both independent jobs and subsidized jobs.


The unemployment rate among foreign-born men fell from 21 to 18.5 percent, compared to 19.6 percent of women (down from 20.8 percent), but there is still a big gap between foreign-born and native Swedes.

The figures also show that more young men (10.1 percent) were registered as unemployed than young women (6.9 percent), due to the latter being more likely to complete their high school education.

More people than normal were told they were being laid off last month – more than 8,000 people compared to just above 2,100 in February last year. This increase is largely caused by Arbetsförmedlingen's own layoffs. The agency has announced it is cutting up to a third of its own staff.


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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.”