Business Region Göteborg: Foreign-born accounts for almost all of the job growth; exclusion and unemployment is the worry


Gothenburg region continues to have the lowest unemployment in Sweden’s metropolitan regions but now the numbers are turning upwards and foreign-born accounted for almost all job growth. According to press note released by Business Region Gothenburg’s Unemployment Report 2020, the region had an annual average of 5.6 percent in unemployment for persons aged 16-64 in 2019. This is lower than the Stockholm region’s average of 5.9 percent and significantly lower than in the Malmö region where almost one tenth of the workforce is unemployed.


The press release said, “The unemployment rate in the Gothenburg region has been the lowest among metropolitan regions since March 2015 and the region has had a better labor market development than the state since the turn of the year 2009-2010. Öckerö has the lowest unemployment rate among the region’s municipalities with 2.6 percent. Gothenburg recorded the highest unemployment rate with 7.1 percent, which is slightly above the Swedish average of 7 percent.”

Although the annual average in the Gothenburg region for 2019 stands at the same level as 2018, unemployment has increased during the autumn. The same trend is evident throughout the country, said the press note. “In January 2019, unemployment for domestic-born was 2.8 percent and for foreign-born 14.8 percent in the region. At the end of the year, the figure is 3.1 and 15.6 percent, respectively. We are therefore seeing an increase,” said Peter Warda, an analyst at Business Region Gothenburg and author of the report.

According to the report, in 2018, the number of employed residents in the Gothenburg region increased by more than 7,400 individuals. Of those born abroad, 6,811 accounted for more than 90 per cent. Peter Warda said, “In other words, foreign-born people accounted for almost all employment growth. But despite all the jobs created for foreign-born in the last three years, which is almost 20,000, we still have an unemployment rate of just over 15 percent as it is constantly being filled with new job seekers.”

Peter Warda noted that foreign-born people have a much easier time getting jobs in the metropolitan regions, especially in Stockholm and Gothenburg. In the Stockholm region, unemployment among foreign-born persons is 13.0 percent for the full year 2019 and 15.1 in the Gothenburg region. He said, “In Malmö, which is a much smaller region, unemployment among foreign-born is at 23 percent. The labor market has worked better in the Stockholm and Gothenburg regions, as we saw in the previous report as well, and it shows how important it is to have a large labor market that can capture the majority of the labor force with both high-quality and low-quality jobs.”

The worrying aspect for the region is ‘exclusion today’ which risks serious consequences for the future. The report said, “In 2019, around 60 percent of the Gothenburg region’s more than 29,300 unemployed persons aged 16-64 were born abroad. This is a challenge and powerful efforts are needed to improve the group’s chances of entering the labour market.” Among the 29,300 unemployed people in the region 17,550 are foreign born.