Sweden’s New Public Employment Service has revealed that migrant unemployment is falling, although it remains almost four times as high as the country’s average.
Unemployment among Swedish-born residents stands at 3.7%, whereas 20.5% of those born abroad remain without work. The drop was in part facilitated by subsidised employment programmes, funded by the public sector.
These numbers come as the subject of immigration and migrant unemployment is dividing Sweden’s governing coalition partners.
As part of the run-up to Sweden’s September elections, the Social Democrats announced in April their intention to pass a law that would link eligibility to social benefits with proficiency in Swedish. The law would apply for asylum seekers and immigrants. Moreover, the government would be able to stop benefits for newcomers that do not accept the state’s offer of government-provided Swedish language tuition.
The new policy comes as part of a string of measures that were designed to show that the Social Democrats are getting tougher on migration. In a joint press conference, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and labour market minister Ylva Johansson announced in April the tightening of the Swedish migration regime.
The emphasis of the new regime will be on skills, with prime minister Löfven making the case that Sweden cannot continue to welcome low-skilled migration that is adding to the ranks of the unemployed.
The Green Party is the current governments’ junior coalition partner, an alliance that has lasted since 2008. The Greens, however, have rejected the Social Democratic stance on migration, saying they would campaign on a different platform ahead of the September poll.