In Stats: How many people are currently unemployed in Sweden

Unemployment has been on the increase in Sweden during the pandemic, but there are signs of light on the horizon, new figures suggest.

In Stats: How many people are currently unemployed in Sweden
More people are unemployed in Sweden. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT

A total of 475,000 people were registered as unemployed at Sweden's national employment agency Arbetsförmedlingen at the end of August, according to the agency's new data released on Monday.

That's around 126,000 people more than the same month last year, and means that unemployment in Sweden has risen from 7 percent to 9.1 percent in a year – fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic.

Of the total unemployment figures, around 250,000 people were born abroad (up from 202,000 last year) and of those almost 199,000 were born outside of Europe (up from 165,000). Unemployment among Swedish-born people increased from 148,000 to more than 225,000 in the same period.

This means that in late August, the unemployment rate among foreign-born people stood at 21.5 percent, and 5.6 percent among Swedish-born people (up from 19.2 and 3.7 percent, respectively).

There are signs of the job market slowly coming back to life.

In August almost 36,000 of everyone registered with Arbetsförmedlingen started a new job, almost 9,000 more than in August last year. Of those, 29,000 were previously registered as unemployed.

Among young people (for whom unemployment grew from 8.9 percent last August, to 13.3 percent this year) the figure was even more promising. Almost twice as many started a new job in August compared to the same month last year, and 9,000 started university (up from 5,000 last year).

Sweden's economy is currently going through one of its worst crises in recent years, although the overall situation is not as bad as initially feared, with the economy expected to start bouncing back in the second half of 2020.

But as The Local has previously reported, those in long-term unemployment are hit the hardest, and the figure continues to rise. At the end of August 168,000 people had been without a job for more than 12 months. That's 23,000 more than the same period last year, and 3,000 more than last month.

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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.”