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ECONOMY

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

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.

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/imagebank.sweden.se

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.

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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For members

WORKING IN SWEDEN

CHECKLIST: Here’s what you need to do if you move away from Sweden

What authorities do you need to inform before you leave, are you liable to Swedish tax and how can you access your Swedish pension? Here's a checklist.

CHECKLIST: Here's what you need to do if you move away from Sweden

Tell the relevant authorities if you’re leaving for more than a year

If you’re planning on leaving Sweden for more than a year, you will have to let the authorities know. The main authorities in question are Skatteverket (the Tax Agency) and Försäkringskassan (the Social Insurance Agency).

Försäkringskassan

You have to tell Försäkringskassan when you leave so they can assess whether or not you still qualify for Swedish social insurance. As a general rule, you aren’t eligible for Swedish social insurance if you move away from Sweden, but there are exceptions, such as maternity or paternity benefits if you’re moving to another EU country.

This also applies to any family members who move with you – any over-18’s should send in their own documentation to Försäkingskassan about their move abroad. If you’re moving abroad with anyone under 18, you can include them in your own report to Försäkringskassan.

If both legal guardians are moving abroad together, both need to include any children in their application. If one legal guardian is moving abroad and the other is staying in Sweden, you need the guardian staying in Sweden to co-sign your application. If you are the sole legal guardian of any under-18’s travelling with you, you don’t need any documentation from the other parent.

You can register a move abroad with Försäkringskassan on the Mina sidor service on their website, here (log in with BankID).

Skatteverket

If you are moving abroad for a year or longer, you also need to tell the Tax Agency. This also applies if you were planning on moving abroad for less than a year but ended up staying for longer.

If you move to another Nordic country, you will also need to register your move with that country’s authorities if you will be there for six months or more. You’ll be deregistered from the Swedish population register the same day you become registered in another Nordic country’s register.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll lose your personnummer – you’ll still be able to use it if you ever move back to Sweden – but you will no longer be registered as resident in Sweden.

Similarly to Försäkringskassan, you will also need to report any children you are bringing with you, and both legal guardians must sign the form, whether or not both guardians are moving abroad or not.

In some cases, you may still be liable to pay tax in Sweden even if you live abroad – particularly if you are a Swedish citizen or have lived in Sweden for at least ten years. This could be due to owning or renting out property in Sweden, having family in Sweden, or owning a business in Sweden.

You can tell the tax agency of your plans to move abroad here.

Contact your a-kassa, if relevant

If you are member of a Swedish a-kassa (unemployment insurance), make sure you tell them that you’re leaving the country. As a general rule, you have unemployment insurance in the country you work in, so you will most likely have to cancel your a-kassa subscription.

If you are moving to another country with the a-kassa system, such as Denmark or Finland, it may pay to wait until you have joined a new a-kassa in that country before you cancel your membership in Sweden.

This is due to the fact, in some countries, you only qualify for benefits once you fulfil a membership and employment requirement. In Sweden and Denmark, you must have been a member for 12 months before you qualify. In Finland, the membership requirement is 26 weeks.

If you qualify for a-kassa in Sweden before you leave the country, you may be able to transfer your a-kassa membership period over to your new a-kassa abroad and qualify there straight away, but this usually only applies if your period of a-kassa membership is unbroken.

Check what applies in your new country before you cancel your membership in Sweden – your a-kassa should be able to help you with this.

Contact your union, if relevant

Similarly, if you are a member of a Swedish union or fackförbund, let them know you’re moving abroad.

If you’re moving to another Nordic country, they might be able to point you in the direction of the relevant union in that country, if you want to remain a member of a union in your new country.

If you’re moving to another EU country, you may be able to remain a member of your Swedish union as a foreign worker with the status utlandsvistelse.

If you chose to do this, you will usually pay a lower monthly fee than you do in Sweden, and they can still provide assistance with work related issues – although it may make more sense to join a local union in your field with more knowledge of the labout market.

If you don’t want to be a member of a union in your new country and don’t want to be a member of a Swedish union, you should contact your  union and ask them to cancel your membership.

Collect relevant documents regarding your Swedish pension

If you have worked in Sweden and paid tax for any length of time, you will have paid in to a Swedish pension. You retain this pension wherever you move, but you must apply for it yourself.

To do so, you will need to give details of when you lived and worked in Sweden, as well as providing copies of work contracts, if you have them. If you have these documents before you leave Sweden, make copies so that you can provide them when asked.

If you move to the EU/EES or Switzerland, you may also have the right to other, non-work based pensions, such as guarantee pension for low- or no-income earners, or the income pension complement (inkomstpensionstillägg).

Currently, you can receive your Swedish pension once you turn 62 – although there is a proposal in parliament due to raise pension age to 63 for those born after 1961 from 2023, so this may change.

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