Swedish working week hits historic 26 hour high
Published on: 15 Jun 2012 15:51 CET
Using data from Statistics Sweden, the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv – SN) looked at the number of hours worked by Swedes and how that figure has evolved since the current centre-right Alliance government took power in 2006.
According to the group's calculations, the total number of working hours completed by Swedes aged 20 to 64 work works out to 26.2 hours per week on average, which is nearly Confederation of Swedish Enterprise an hour more compared to 2006.
The group adds that the additional hours worked by Swedes is the equivalent of 120,000 new jobs, if one assumes no change in population.
According to SN, the increased number of working hours per person in Sweden is larger than any other European country except for Germany and the Netherlands.
It also means that Swedes today are working more hours per person that at any time since 1991.
"One hour per week is a big increase, especially if you consider the increase took place during a turbulent period which included a financial crisis and a global slowdown," Confederation of Swedish Enterprise economist Stefan Fölster said in a statement.
Fölster credits a number of government reforms that have contributed to a better functioning labour market in Sweden, including in-work tax credits and reduced employers' fees.
"The reforms have paid off, but now the government needs to keep up the pressure for reform and further strengthen the economy," said Fölster.
However, union representatives fear the increase in working hours is simply a result of people who are already overworked working even more.
"Our members tell us that they are working a lot more. Many are working during weekends and vacations when they really out to be off the clock in order to recover," Cecilia Beskow from the Unionen labour union told Sveriges Radio (SR).
"The phone is always on and they are available round the clock, and that can affect people's health in the long run."
Link to the study (in Swedish):