How much do work permit holders bring to the Swedish economy?

Emma Löfgren
Emma Löfgren - [email protected]
How much do work permit holders bring to the Swedish economy?
File photo of people working in an office in Sweden. Photo: Simon Paulin/

Foreign workers last year contributed 43 billion kronor to the Swedish economy, according to a new report which warns of the impact of raising the minimum salary threshold for work permit holders.


Almost 40,000 work permits were granted in 2022, of which around a third were extensions to previous permits, bringing in 14 billion kronor in tax revenue, according to the report by the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, an organisation for businesses and employers in Sweden.

In total they contributed 43 billion kronor to Sweden’s GDP, states the report, which focuses only on how labour migration benefits Sweden economically and not on labour migrants themselves.

IT experts contribute the most to Sweden’s GDP, bringing in an added value of almost 16 billion kronor in 2022, or in other words 37 percent of work permit holders’ total contribution to the Swedish economy.

That is by far the most valuable industry in terms of GDP. But even professions that have a comparatively smaller effect on the Swedish economy still add a significant amount of kronor to its coffers: fast food and waiting staff contribute almost 1.6 billion kronor and berry pickers more than 1.2 billion kronor.


The report, which also investigates the impact a raised salary threshold would have on labour migration and the Swedish economy, comes amid tightening rules for work permit applicants.


In May, the Swedish government announced plans to hike the minimum salary threshold for a work permit to 80 percent of the median salary in Sweden, which is the equivalent of 26,560 kronor a month. The new threshold would replace the existing minimum of 13,000 kronor a month from October 1st.

The proposed salary threshold has been lowered slightly compared to the initial plans, and the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise bases its report on the effect of a median salary threshold.

A median salary threshold would effectively halve the number of work permit applications, and even put a complete or near-halt to labour migration in certain sectors, such as fast food and waiting staff, cleaners and berry pickers – of whom more than nine out of ten workers would be affected.

High-educated professions would take a hit too. One in ten IT experts would be denied a work permit if the salary threshold were to be set at the median salary, according to the report.

Sweden would also miss out on five billion kronor in tax revenue, and work permit holders’ contribution to Sweden’s GDP would decrease by 16 billion kronor, the report estimates.


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