Fri, 18 Sep 2020

STOCKHOLM, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- Unemployment in Sweden continues to rise due to the ongoing pandemic, and long-term unemployment is rising faster.

"Long-term unemployment is increasing faster and one explanation for this is that the people who had been unemployed for a few months when the pandemic began and who in normal times had probably found a job, they have been affected by this situation," Annika Sunden, head of analysis at the Swedish Public Employment Service, told Swedish Radio on Tuesday.

Those who have been without work for a year or more are counted as long-term unemployed, which now applies to 165,000 people, and that is 23,000 more than a year ago, the radio reported.

Overall, the rate of increase slowed down during the summer and 478,000 people were unemployed at the end of July, which corresponds to an increased annual unemployment level from 6.9 percent to 9.2 percent.

Previously, the Swedish Public Employment Service believed that unemployment would peak at 11.4 percent in March next year, now the assessment is 11.2 percent. But it all depends on how the pandemic develops, said Sunden.

"Our assessment is that unemployment will continue to rise. How it will then develop is very much about what will happen both in our own economy but also in other countries. Sweden's economy is very dependent on its exports," she added.

Sunden said that government's support to companies in terms of short-time work allowance, which means that employers can reduce their employees' working hours and receive financial support from the central government to compensate for a significant part of the costs for retaining employees, have helped reduce unemployment. But now as the government's support would be reduced, it would also affect what happens to unemployment in the future, she explained.

Sweden's economy shrank by 8.6 percent in the second quarter of this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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