Our Swedish friends, inhabitants of the fifth largest country in Europe representing more than 10 million people, have a bit of a problem on their hands if projections turn out to be true.
Sweden’s got a major supply and demand problem.
By 2025, its entire workforce is expected to grow by 207,000 people—yet it needs more than that number just to staff its fabled welfare state. The worker shortfall could crimp services and raise labor costs, especially in a political environment less hospitable to immigration.
The mismatch is one of the biggest headaches facing Sweden’s next government. Past precedents don’t bode well. The workforce rose by 488,000 between 2007 and 2017, with less than a third of that increase absorbed by the public sector.
Local authorities recruiting 208,000 workers is “not a credible scenario,” said Annika Wallenskog, chief economist at the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions. The real risk is that the public and private sectors end up competing for the same workers, she said.
The government is going to have to come up with some seriously big ideas on how to make up for future labor shortages. Immigration has also become an especially sensitive topic since the country re-imposed border controls in the wake of the 2015 refugee crisis.
Sweden needs to accelerate the speed of automation, increase employment and reform its welfare state, Wallenskog said. Otherwise “we won’t have enough people to continue working the way we do.”
“We have taken Sweden in a new direction. Investments in jobs, health care, schools and the climate have borne fruit. The Government is now making additional investments for a secure and sustainable Sweden,” says Minister for Finance Magdalena Andersson.
The Spring Fiscal Policy Bill and the proposals in the spring amending budget are based on an agreement between the government parties and the Left Party.
Sweden’s economy continues to perform strongly
The Swedish model continues to deliver results. Since 2014, Sweden has had higher growth than most comparable countries, and growth is expected to remain high in 2018. Employment has increased, with 250 000 more people in jobs during the same period, and the employment rate, (the proportion of the population in employment) is at its highest level in more than 25 years. Moreover, Sweden has the highest employment rate ever measured in an EU country. Youth unemployment is at its lowest level since 2003. The demand for labour will remain strong and unemployment is expected to continue to fall to 6.2 per cent in 2018.
Public finances have shown a surplus since 2015 and are expected to continue to do so in the coming years. The surplus is expected to amount to approximately 1 per cent of GDP in both 2018 and 2019, and then increase up to and including 2021.
“We expect to see increasing needs in the welfare system in the coming years, as we are living longer and more children are being born. This will be the major task of the next electoral period. That is why the Government is giving higher priority to investments in increased security for a Sweden that stands together than to major tax cuts for the richest,” says Ms Andersson.
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