What’s the job market like in Sweden right now?

Bar and restaurant worker in Gothenburg
The lifting of pandemic restrictions is one reason Covid-hit industries like hospitality are now seeing fewer redundancies and more new hires. Photo: Tina Stafrén/
The job market in Sweden is bouncing back after the pandemic saw a significant rise in lay-offs, according to figures on redundancies and hires during the third quarter of 2021.

During the third quarter, redundancy support organisation Trygghetsfonden TSL noted that for every person laid off, three received a new job.

That compares to a one-to-one ratio before the pandemic, while the number of new redundant workers who contacted the organisation (1,650) between July and September 2020 was the lowest in ten years.

“The labour market is strong for the majority of workers in the private sector. The industries that have been hit hard by the pandemic are also the ones that are now recovering the strongest,” said Caroline Söder, director of the group which offers free support to people who are made redundant.

“Our adjustment ratio shows that the labour market has recovered far better than both ours and everyone else’s forecasts. Our assessment is that the good situation is due to the fact that we have kept society relatively open combined with strong support measures,” she said in a statement.

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There is a shortage of workers in sectors such as the restaurant industry and taxi drivers, where many laid-off workers retrained or found other work, which means redundancy rates are low and hiring rates high in these branches. In the hospitality, transport and staffing industries, TSL reported there were between 70 and 88 percent fewer redundancies in the third quarter of 2021 compared to the same period the year before.

The pandemic has also led to unusually large shifts in the labour market.

Of those laid off, 40 percent have changed profession, according to figures from TSL based on what people who use their services self-report. The majority (80 percent) said they were given an equal or more qualified role than the one they lost. 

However, Söder warns that there is still uncertainty ahead as pandemic support for businesses winds down, with many now needing to pay taxes they deferred during the peak of the Covid-19 crisis for example. Bottlenecks in production and manufacturing as a result of the pandemic may also hamper recovery.

TSL works with people who are made redundant, which means its figures do not include the long-term unemployed, who number around 200,000 in Sweden — a figure that grew during the pandemic. People in this group may face greater obstacles to re-entering the labour market, such as not having needed skills or qualifications. 

Of relevance to those living in the south of Sweden, neighbouring Denmark are also struggling to fill 108,000 job vacancies, Sydsvenskan reports.

This has led Danish employers to start looking over the Öresund strait to attract some of Skåne’s 65,000 unemployed people. With Danish salaries often higher than comparable offers in Sweden due to exchange rates, this could be an opportunity worth exploring for those with EU, Nordic or Swedish citizenship who are able to live in Sweden and work in Denmark.

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