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More Swedes excluded from job market

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15:12 CEST+02:00
The government has failed to achieve its main goal of reducing the number of people who are inactive in the job market. New statistics show that their numbers have swelled by 6,500 in the last four years.

The figures come from the Department of Employment, which collects data about the unemployed, those on sick leave and early retirees. They show that the "excluded," or those who are not engaged in the job market, has increased by 6,528 persons.

The number of unemployed in particular has increased, while those taking early retirement and sick leave have sharply decreased. A total of 1.59 million people are excluded, according to the Department of Employment's definition.

Reducing job market isolation has been the government's most important objective. In 2006, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said in a government statement that the overall goal is to create conditions for more jobs and "thereby overcoming exclusion."

He added that "over 1 million people are inactive from the job market. Despite strong growth, there is mass unemployment."

During political debates in the spring, the government pointed out that Sweden has gone through a deep financial crisis and the country has emerged as one of Europe's strongest economies thanks to government policy.

The opposition Social Democrats believe that the numbers of socially excluded have increased considerably more. They have commissioned Sweden's parliament's, the Riksdag's, inquiry service to count how many people aged 16 to 64 are not participating in the job market, a somewhat different way to compile the figures to the Department of Employment's.

According to party secretary Ibrahim Baylan, this measure also captures those who are not part of any "system," such as young people who have not registered with Public Employment Services (Arbetsförmedlingen) and do not receive any kind of compensation or assistance.

He pointed out that the ruling Moderates used this definition before the last election, but asserted that since then, they have altered the standards to get better figures.

"No matter how one counts them, they have failed their big electoral promise to reduce exclusion," he said.

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