According to figures from the SOM Institute in Gothenburg, in 2018 Sweden saw the largest number of people moving to the country to work since the rules for labour migration were relaxed in 2008.
The figures come from a survey undertaken by the SOM Institute that revealed increased support for more labour migration from members of the Swedish public with Political scientist Elina Lindgren, author of the survey, arguing that the increase in support is likely due to the lack of skilled workers and an ageing labour force, Sveriges Radio reports.
“The arguments for the reform have been focused on the need for more labour in Sweden, with many retiring and an ageing population,” Lindgren said.
Labour migration from outside the European Union has differed in various industries. In the IT sector, Sweden gave out between four to five thousand work visas, while in the public sector the number was far less. In nursing, for example, only 60 work visas were granted to non-EU nationals in 2018.
Sweden Hands Out over 132,000 Residency Permits in 2018 https://t.co/Me5YyZaNda
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According to the SOM Institute, migrants under 30 with high levels of education tend to be viewed the most positively in terms of labour migration, while middle-aged migrants and those engaged in low-skilled labour are viewed in a more negative light.
While the number of work visas is at a decade high, the 20,000 or so work visas are dwarfed by the number of residency permits granted for asylum seekers and for family reunification.
In total, Sweden handed out 132,696 residency permits in 2018, with asylum seekers and family reunification residency permits making up the majority of the total number.
Despite the increase in migrant labour permits, the unemployment rate for migrants has remained far higher than that of native Swedes with a report released last summer by the Swedish Public Employment Service revealing that the unemployment rate for native Swedes sat at just 3.6 percent while the rate for migrants stood at 19.9 percent.
The unemployment situation has been highlighted in the heavily migrant populated southern city of Malmö where the rate is twice the national average.