60% of unemployment benefit recipients in Sweden have migration background

Västerås/Sweden - February 17, 2019: Outside the entrance of a Swedish public employment office. (Credit: Shutterstock)
By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

The majority of those receiving unemployment benefits in Sweden have a migration background despite comprising a fifth of the population, the latest government figures revealed.

At a press conference on Monday, the Swedish government announced its autumn budget proposal to cut income taxes for those with low and medium incomes, which it claimed would save the average working family around 14,000 Swedish krona (€1,176) a year.

Finance Minister Elisabeth Svantesson said the move was necessary to provide workers with a reprieve during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and would incentivize workers.

“It needs to pay better to work. The driving forces to work therefore need to be increased through a strengthened employment tax deduction,” she said.

Government figures provided at the conference showed that 300,000 people in Sweden are currently registered as unemployed with the Swedish Public Employment Service.

“Just under half of those unemployed have non-European ancestry,” a government fact sheet stated, adding that “60 percent of all grant recipients in Sweden have foreign origins.”

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This is despite the country’s immigrant population standing at 2.15 million at the end of last year, according to Statista. This represents around 20 percent of the Swedish population, showing migrants disproportionately make up a majority of Swedish jobseekers.

Mats Rune Dagerlind, political editor of the Swedish news site Samnytt, which reported on the revelation, commented: “Now I’m getting confused. ‘Without immigration, Sweden will stand still, it enriches our country and is a source of competence.’ I have been taught. Very strange…”

Sweden’s center-right government, propped up by the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, has sought to reform the country’s immigration laws since taking office last September, recently announcing several new draft bills designed at restricting the requirements to come and work in the country.

Starting next month, prospective migrants must show they have secured employment with a salary of 26,560 Swedish krona (€2,347.15) per month, more than double the current threshold of SEK 13,000. Furthermore, the age threshold at which new arrivals can apply for residence permits for their spouses will increase from 18 to 21.

To combat illegal immigration, the government is considering the introduction of a mandatory requirement for public institutions to report instances when they come into contact with migrants in an irregular situation amid reports that more than 100,000 people are living in the country illegally.

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