Sweden Labor Market

Sweden has the highest employment rate in the EU. This is largely due to the high proportion of women who work. The proportion of unionized workers has decreased, but is still at a high level internationally. Unemployment is below the EU average.

For a long time, unemployment was at an internationally very low level, but it rose sharply in the early 1990s when more than half a million jobs disappeared in connection with the economic crisis. The authorities implemented various programs with further training of the unemployed, and this, together with an economic boom, led to the opening down of open unemployment.

Despite this, during the early 2000s, not enough new jobs were created to reduce unemployment to as low levels as before the crisis. The international financial crisis of 2008 caused the figure to rise again, but then it dropped. With the corona pandemic that broke out in the spring of 2020, warnings, layoffs and sharply rising unemployment figures came. At the end of May, almost one million Swedes were unemployed or laid off.

Even before the corona crisis, almost every fifth youth between the ages of 15 and 24 was considered unemployed, but almost half of them studied full-time at the same time.

  • COUNTRYAAH: List of key population facts of Sweden, covering most basic population data, religion statistics, and language profiles.

Sweden Population

Swedish wage earners are highly unionized, although the proportion has declined since the mid-1990s. At that time, almost 90 percent of the employees belonged to a trade union, but that figure has now dropped to about 66 percent. A particularly large race occurred in 2007, since the then-bourgeois bourgeois government raised its fees for trade unions and unemployment funds. The 2020 pandemic has led to a new influx of trade unions.

Most trade unions in Sweden are part of one of the three central organizations, the National Organization (LO), the Central Organization of Officials (TCO) or the Central Academy of Sweden’s Academies (Saco). Together, they represent just over 50 unions. The largest is the Union of the TCO Union with about 650,000 members.

Employers are organized in the corresponding union by the Swedish Enterprise (formed in 2001 by a merger of the Swedish Employers ‘Association, SAF, and the Swedish Industry Association), as well as in the public domain by the State Employers’ Association and the Swedish Municipalities and Regions (SKR, was named 2019 Sweden’s Municipalities and Landsting, SKL).

The parties to the Swedish labor market have long been negotiating without government intervention, although disputes may need to be resolved with the help of the state’s mediator. In recent years, however, the government has exerted strong pressure to keep the parties within a fixed financial framework. In Sweden there is no state minimum wage, it is instead set in the collective agreements.



6.8 percent (2019)

Youth Unemployment

18.5 percent (2019)



M / KD budget adopted

December 12

Parliament votes for a budget proposal presented by the Moderates and Christian Democrats and also supported by the Swedish Democrats. This means that M and KD’s economic policy will apply in 2019, no matter what the formation of government is. The budget includes reduced income taxes, a three-fold increase in the grid deduction (to a maximum of SEK 75,000) and the abolished deduction right for the union fee.

Peace talks on Yemen in Roslagen

December 6

Sweden stands as host when peace talks under the auspices of the UN begin between the warring parties in Yemen, at a castle in Rimbo north of Stockholm. These are informal talks that will last for a week between the war-torn country’s government and the huhire rebels. Four years of fighting in Yemen have led to what the UN calls the worst ongoing humanitarian crisis in the world, with millions of people living near the famine border. No peace talks have been held since 2016.


Government assignment again to the S leader

November 23

S leader Stefan Löfven is again nominated by the Speaker of the Prime Minister’s post. Attempts are now being made to form a government with at least passive support by the central parties C and L.

The C leader gives up trying to form government

November 22

Center Party leader Annie Lööf also gives up the exploration mission given to her by the President. Lööf said when she took on the assignment that she would seek solutions based on factual policy and not only seek a conceivable government coalition, but she has not succeeded anyway.

The M leader voted down as prime minister

November 14

The Riksdag votes against a proposal from the Speaker to appoint M-leader Ulf Kristersson as prime minister for a minority government consisting of M and KD. The other two parties in the Alliance continue to refuse to be part of a government that would need SD support. All members vote according to the party line, which means 195 non-votes (S + C + V + L + MP) and 154 year votes (M + SD + KD).


The S leader gives up attempts to form a government

October 29th

Social Democrats leader Stefan Löfven, who is prime minister in the transitional government that so far leads the country, in turn gives up the attempts to form a government. Speaker Andreas Norlén said that he now intends to take a more active stance.

The M leader gives up attempts to form government

October 14

The moderate leader Ulf Kristersson gives up his attempts to form a government. He was given the assignment by the President almost two weeks earlier. The baton goes on the next day to S leader Stefan Löfven.


Prime Minister deposed

September 25

The parliament votes Prime Minister Stefan Löfven with the 204 to 142 votes (three members absent). The result was expected when the Alliance and the Swedish Democrats made it clear that they intended to vote against Löfven. It is now up to the newly elected President Andreas Norlén to find a new government leader. Löfven makes it clear that he is at the disposal of the President. For the time being, Löfven remains as the leader of a transitional government.

Moderate elected President

September 24th

When the newly elected parliament is assembled, the moderate member Andreas Norlén is appointed new president. He wins over Social Democrats candidate Åsa Lindestam, who is then elected first vice president. The outcome was expected since the Alliance jointly launched Norlén and the Swedish Democrats made it clear that they intended to support him. Second Vice-President becomes Lotta Johnsson Fornarve (V) and third Vice-President Kerstin Lundgren (C). The Swedish Democrat Björn Söder has been the second vice-president since 2014, but was voted out after widespread criticism of a number of controversial statements.

Dispute with China

September 17th

China’s foreign ministry demands that Sweden investigate a case in which Chinese citizens are said to have been violated and have sharply criticized the Swedish police. The Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that the police have only done their job. The background is a case where three Chinese tourists were removed from a hotel in Stockholm, after trying to sleep in a hotel lobby one night when they had no reservation at the hotel. The staff say they called the police when the visitors became threatening. Video footage of the three – a man and his elderly parents – on the street has been shown in Chinese media and caused sharp criticism of the Swedish authorities’ actions. The incident occurs the week after Tibet’s ex-Dalai lama visited Sweden, and in light of Sweden’s criticism of China’s treatment of the publisher Gui Minhai, who is still imprisoned in China (seeFebruary 2018).

Small red-green overweight parliamentary election

September 9th

The parliamentary election becomes very even between the two traditional blocs: 144 seats for the red-green parties and 143 seats for the Alliance. The leader of the M Ulf Kristersson already demands on election night that Prime Minister Stefan Löfven resigns immediately because the Alliance is slightly larger than S alone, but Löfven remains. The Swedish Democrats are progressing compared to the previous election, but with 62 seats (17.5 percent) still receive less support than many had predicted. S gets 100 seats (28.3 percent), M 70 (19.8) m, C 31 (8.6), V 28 (8.0), KD 22 (6.3), L 20 (5.5)) and MP 16 (4.4).


The climate issue is central to the election

9th of August

When one month remains for the parliamentary election, the climate has become the second most important issue for voters. In a poll of Demoskop, 16 percent say that the climate is the most important issue that has thus passed through healthcare, which 13 percent now consider to be most important. Immigration is still the most important issue, 23 percent. The extremely hot summer has helped to bring the climate into focus.


Record many forest fires

31 July

As in most of the northern hemisphere, summer is unusually hot and dry. From May there are unusually high temperatures and there is basically no rainfall – and during July forest fires erupt in many places. At most, it burns in some 70 places and covers around 25,000 hectares. Sweden gets help with firefighting from several other EU countries and Norway. No people are killed and at the end of the month the situation is reported to be about to stabilize. Some critics claim that forestry is exacerbating the situation through unilateral cultivation of dense coniferous forest.

Support for drought-stricken farmers

July 30

The government allocates SEK 1.2 billion in crisis support to farmers who have been affected by the severe drought that has led, among other things, to feed shortages. According to the Swedish Farmers’ Federation (LRF), farmers have suffered damage for at least SEK 10 billion due to the drought.

Sex without consent becomes illegal

July 1st

A law comes into force which means that sexual intercourse without consent is equated with rape. The law means that it is forbidden to have sex with a person who has not explicitly stated yes or actively shown that they want to participate. Sweden becomes the tenth country in Europe with a kind of consent.


Life sentence for terrorist acts

7 June

There will be life imprisonment and deportation for Rakhmat Akilov who will be sentenced for terrorist crime following the assault on Drottninggatan (see April 2017). Akilov, who is convicted of five murders and 119 attempted murders, will also pay damages to the victims. During the trial, which began in January, it emerged that Akilov had pleaded guilty to terrorism and had hoped to kill up to 50 people, to scare Sweden into withdrawing from the fight against the Islamic State (IS). Akilov must have planned the act for months and been in contact with several jihadists abroad, even during the day of the attack. However, IS has never officially taken on the deed.

Contested high school law for unaccompanied

7 June

Parliament is voting to give asylum seekers unaccompanied young people a chance to finish high school in Sweden. The issue is highly disputed and the proposal has been criticized in several heavy referral bodies who consider it uncertain and unclear. It also points to fragmentation within the Alliance on migration issues ahead of the September elections, when all bourgeois parties except C oppose the law. It applies to about 9,000 young people who have applied for asylum as a child but have had to wait a long time to have the application processed by the authorities. However, when the so-called upper secondary school law comes into force at the end of the first half, two of the country’s four migration courts will decide first and then the Swedish Migration Board to await the application, since the law is considered inadequate. At the end of September, however, the Migration Supreme Court will conclude that the law may be applied. The law should also be tried by the European Court of Justice.


Defense agreement with the USA and Finland

May 8

Sweden signs a tripartite agreement with the US and Finland on enhanced military cooperation. It takes place during a solemn ceremony in Washington. Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist describes the agreement as historic and says it should work stabilizing. Both Sweden and Finland have bilateral cooperation agreements with the US since 2016. Critics believe that the agreements violate the freedom of alliance.


UN Security Council in Skåne

April 21

For the first time ever, the UN Security Council meets outside New York – and this is done in Skåne Backåkra. Sweden, which is a member of the Council 2017–2018, has proposed former UN chief Dag Hammarskjöld’s farm as an alternative and informal meeting place to discuss the war in Syria. Ambassadors for the 15 members of the Security Council and Secretary-General António Guterres are present in Backåkra, as well as on various occasions Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, Foreign Minister Margot Wallström and UN Syrian Ambassador, Swedish-Italian Staffan de Mistura. After the two-day meeting, it is stated that a new dialogue on Syria has been opened.

Crisis in the Swedish Academy

April 12

Culture-Sweden is shaken by a crisis that gives echoes in literary circles around the world. The Swedish Academy, distributor of the Nobel Prize in literature (see Culture), has been in a deep internal conflict that culminates when the permanent secretary Sara Danius resigns and leaves the job. In total, five of the “eighteen” have thus left the tradition-heavy institution in the course of just under a week. Since two other members have participated in the work since the end, only eleven members remain. Everything happens in the aftermath of the metoo movement (see December 17, 2017)) when the spouse of one of the members has been accused of sexual harassment and abuse of a number of women. The designated man is also accused of having leaked the names of Nobel laureates and committed financial irregularities through a cultural scene he conducted with his wife, an activity that the Swedish Academy also contributed to. Later, it is announced that no Nobel Prize in literature will be awarded in 2018. At the end of the year, the man is sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for rape.

A seventh SD member leaves the party

April 9

The MP and former party leader Mikael Jansson leave the SD but state that he intends to remain in the Riksdag and now invest in the newly formed Alternative for Sweden (AFS), founded by former party members excluded from the SD (see April 2015). Two other SD members joined the AFS in March: Olle Felten (who was excluded from the party for meeting with right-wing extremists) and Jeff Ahl. Four other SD members have previously left the party during terms of office; all remain as political savages. An M-member has transitioned to SD during the period, while an MP-member has become politically savage.

New rules for party contributions

April 1st

A tightening of the law enters into force, which means that it is in principle prohibited by anonymous contributions to the political parties, other than on a small scale. The accountability obligation is extended to include not only parties at national level but also regional and municipal, as well as side organizations and non-profit associations within the parties. The ceiling for anonymous grants is lowered from 0.5 to 0.05 price base amount (which in the current year corresponds to SEK 22,750 and SEK 2,275, respectively). The purpose of the law amendment is to clarify how politicians and parties finance their activities, and to prevent corruption.


Russian diplomat expelled

March 26

Sweden expels a Russian diplomat as a result of a nerve poisoning attack on a Russian former spy and his daughter in the UK in early March. It is taking place in concerted action with some 20 countries, mainly in the EU, in solidarity with the British government accusing Russia of being behind the attack. In total, over 100 Russian diplomats are expelled, 60 of whom are from the United States. Moscow denies all involvement in the poison attack. A Swedish diplomat is later expelled from Russia.

North Korean ministerial visit

March 15th

North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong-Ho comes to Stockholm on an unusual visit; the minister rarely travels abroad. The visit is believed to have to do with the meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and US President Donald Trump, expected to be released in May. Sweden is a security force for the United States and the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang represents American interests. During the visit, the Minister will meet Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and several other government representatives.


Foreign Minister condemns China

February 5

Foreign Minister Margot Wallström demands that China release the imprisoned Swedish-Chinese publisher Gui Minhai and condemn the country’s actions in the case. Gui Minhai was abducted in October 2015 during a vacation stay in Thailand and taken to China where he was held in prison for two years. Then he was released but was not allowed to leave the country and on January 20, 2018 he was again removed, this time from a train on his way to Beijing. Gui Minhai was then in company with Swedish diplomats and on his way to see doctors. China’s foreign ministry officially confirms on February 6 that Gui Minhai has been arrested and says he has violated Chinese law. In a statement, Sweden is warned to undermine bilateral relations.

Sweden Labor Market