Swedish unemployment rate rises for first time in two years

Sweden’s unemployment rate rose during July after a long period of falling steadily, and is expected to further increase over the next few months.

Swedish unemployment rate rises for first time in two years
Unemployment was higher among women than men for the first time since 2011. Photo: Bertil Ericson / TT

At the end of July, a total of 344,000 people were classed as being unemployed in Sweden, according to new figures from the Public Employment Agency (Arbetsförmedlingen). This represents an increase of 5,000 people compared with the same month last year, and was the first month-on-month increase since autumn 2017.

The reason for the rise was fewer people beginning new jobs: around 5,000 fewer people started new jobs last month than in July 2018. On the other hand, only 2,600 people were dismissed from their current jobs, lower than the monthly average of around 3,900 dismissals per month over the past year.

“Our assessment is that the unemployment rate will continue to rise during autumn 2019 and 2020. This is explained partly by a weaker state of the market and partly by the lower number of subsidized positions,” Public Employment Agency analyst Anders Ljungberg said in a statement.

“There is a big risk of increased long-term unemployment, especially among those with a low level education. Because of that, it’s important to keep on motivating people into studies that will lead to work,” he added.

Among women, the unemployment rate was 6.9 percent, compared to 6.8 percent for men, making July 2019 the first time since 2011 that unemployment was higher among women than men. When looking only at younger people (aged 18-24), unemployment was however considerably lower among young women (6.9 percent) than young men (10.0 percent).

Unemployment among foreign-born people dropped slightly, from 19.9 to 19 percent, but remained significantly higher than the rate among native Swedes (among whom the rate rose from 3.6 to 3.7 percent).



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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.”