Sweden and immigration: a lot has to do with jobs

The foreign-born worker unemployment rate in Sweden is five times that of native born workers. in the U.S. the foreign-born rate is below that of native born workers.

in 2000, 8.9 million people lived in Sweden. 50,000 immigrants entered the country, and 38,000 emigrated. In 2019, 10 million people lived in Sweden. 163,000 persons, equivalent to 1.6% of the population immigrated and 46,000 emigration. That annual rate of immigration is equivalent to 5 million persons immigrated to the U.S, compared to the roughly 1 million who do. In 2016, 67,000 persons, mostly from Syria, were granted asylum. That compares to about 45,000 refugees who will enter in the U.S. in 2918. In 2016, there were 163,000 asylum seekers in Sweden.

Because immigration to Sweden before the Syrian crisis was generally low, the total foreign population in Sweden (about 15% of total) is proportionally not much higher than in the U.S. (13%). Thus Sweden experienced in about a decade the rise in foreign persons in the U.S. that took several decades

In July, 2018, 3.6 native born Swedes were unemployed compared to 19.9% of foreign born workers. Per The Local, “Unemployment is clearly falling among both native and foreign born, but there are still major differences. To get more new arrivals into work, education and subsidized jobs are important,” Arbetsförmedlingen analyst Andreas Mångs said in a statement.

In 2017, Sweden had one of the highest unemployment rates among foreign-born workers (about 15% in its chart) and the U.S. had one of the lowest (about 5%). The low U.S. rate may be in part due to how Spanish speakers with low English proficiency find employment in Spanish speaking worksites.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for foreign-born persons in the United States was 4.1 percent in 2017, down from 4.3 percent in 2016.  The jobless rate of native-born persons was 4.4 percent in 2017, down from 5.0 percent in 2016.

Lessons from past wave of refugees in Sweden: it’s jobs, stupid.

From The Local: Two decades ago thousands of refugees fled war in Yugoslavia and made Sweden their home, where today they are a well-integrated part of society. During the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s, many of those fleeing the conflict looked to Sweden for protection, with just over 100,000 coming to the Scandinavian nation at the time. In 1992 alone, 70,000 people from the former Yugoslavia applied for asylum in the country – a record high number for a calendar year until it was surpassed in 2015.

A 2016 study showed that a significantly higher proportion of Bosnians are employed. In the 20-24 age bracket, employment was at virtually the same level as native Swedes/

But what lessons can Sweden learn from its successful integration of Yugoslavian refugees? Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the experience is that a good match between the people coming in and the systems of their new home is worth its weight in gold. One thing was the harmony between the general makeup of those who came from former Yugoslavia to the Scandinavian country, and developments in Sweden, which was moving towards a knowledge-based economy at the same time.

Similarities in level of education was particularly vital to the long-term success: Yugoslavia’s education system, where primary schooling was compulsory until the age of 15 and students were encouraged to follow upper secondary education until the age of 19, was not dissimilar to Sweden’s, where school is compulsory until 16, and most pupils then go on to upper secondary school. But Sweden had a financial crisis in the 1990s. Of the Bosnians who were given a residence permit between 1993 and 1994, only 24 percent in the 20-59 age bracket had found employment after four years.

As the new millennium arrived things improved significantly, but with notable regional differences. So while by 1999, 90 percent of male and 80 percent of female Bosnian refugees aged 20-59 living in in Gnosjö, Gislaved, Vaggeryd and Värnamo were employed, the corresponding figure for Malmö was 37 percent and 28 percent respectively. The integration process for those who ended up in the southern Swedish city would have been quicker if they had been placed in regions with a better economic outlook from day one.

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