In Stats: How Sweden’s employment figures changed this summer

Almost 6,000 more people found a new job in Sweden in July compared to the same month last year, despite the coronavirus crunch throwing record numbers of workers into unemployment. But it's not all good news.

In Stats: How Sweden's employment figures changed this summer
Sweden's employment agency Arbetsförmedlingen has released new unemployment statistics. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

In July, 478,081 people were registered as unemployed with Sweden's employment agency Arbetsförmedlingen, which is around 134,000 more than the same month last year.

Of those, 250,000 people were born outside of Sweden, including around 199,000 from a non-European country.

There are small signs of improvement: the downturn on the labour market appears to have slowed down, with fewer people becoming unemployed over the summer, compared to the peak of Sweden's coronavirus outbreak in spring.

The figures also show that around 26,800 people landed a new job in July, an increase of around 6,000 compared to 21,000 in July last year. One explanation could be that many of the people who lost their job during the coronavirus crisis would generally be in a good position on the labour market – with the right skills and education – and therefore find it easier to get a new job.

There are also some industries in Sweden that are still very much in need of staff despite the economic crisis, such as the healthcare and education sectors, and some retail sectors such as warehouse staff, writes the TT newswire.

But the situation is getting worse for the long-term unemployed. Around 165,000 people had been without a job for over a year in July, an increase of 16 percent compared to a year ago, according to Arbetsförmedlingen's report.

Many of those come from foreign countries. In July, almost 89,000 people born in non-European countries had been jobless for at least 12 months, an increase of 8,000 compared to the same month last year.

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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.”