New stats reveal how Sweden’s growing unemployment affects foreign residents

New figures show how the coronavirus crisis has hit the job market in Sweden.

New stats reveal how Sweden's growing unemployment affects foreign residents
A person looking for a job on the Swedish Employment Agency's website. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

A total of 466,000 people were registered as unemployed at the end of June, according to new figures by the Swedish Employment Agency (Arbetsförmedlingen), a rise of 130,000 compared to the same month last year. Or in other words, an unemployment rate that increased from 6.7 percent to 9.0 percent in one year.

“Those who first become unemployed when the demand for labour decreases are people in temporary employment and people who are new to the labour market, especially young people and foreign-born people,” said Arbetsförmedlingen in a statement presenting the new statistics on Monday morning.

People born outside of Sweden made up more than half of the June unemployment figures, with 245,000 foreign-born registered as unemployed in June (up from 196,000 in June last year) compared to 221,000 Swedish-born (up from 140,000). Almost 120,000 of the foreign-born job-seekers were women and 126,000 men, and almost 196,000 were born in a non-European country, according to Arbetsförmedlingen's report.

The unemployment rate among foreign-born people in Sweden stood at 21.2 percent at the end of June (up from 18.8 percent last year) and 5.5 percent among people born in Sweden (up from 3.5 percent last year).

For people aged 18-24, unemployment increased from 8.2 percent in June last year to 13.2 percent this year.

Of everyone registered as unemployed, almost 161,000 had been without a job for more than a year (up by almost 20,000 from June 2019), including more than 87,000 from non-European countries (up by 7,000).

The unemployment rate was the highest in the regions Södermanland (11.4 percent), Skåne (11.3) and Gävleborg (11.1) regions in June, and the lowest in Gotland, Västerbotten and Norrbotten (6.7 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.”