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Swedes keep young Norwegians out of work

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Swedes Sonja Ranta and Louice Fogel at work in an Oslo bakery, 2010 (Photo: Berit Roald/Scanpix)
10:56 CEST+02:00
A rapid influx of young Swedes is making it difficult for their Norwegian counterparts to get part-time work and summer jobs, according to a new study.

The arrival of the Swedes has made it especially tricky for first-time Norwegian job seekers aged 17-18 to break into the labour market, study author Camilla Sundt told newspaper Aftenposten.

“Our analysis shows that an increased number of Swedes has a negative effect on the likelihood of 17-year-old Norwegians being in work,” she told the paper.

“When the number of young Swedes rises by one percentage point, the number of young Norwegians in work falls by half a percentage point,” said Sundt, whose master’s study forms part of a larger research project being conducted by the Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research at the University of Oslo.

The study is financed by the Ministry of Labour.

Many of the Swedes find jobs in the service sector or receive work through recruitment firms like Adecco. Oslo’s location relatively close to the border has made it a popular destination for Swedes, whose presence is especially noticeable in the city’s restaurants and cafes.    

According to Even Westerveld, a communications adviser at Adecco, young Norwegians are often more picky about the kind of part-time work or summer jobs they will agree to take.

“Even if there’s a lot available, there are many jobs young Norwegians aren’t keen on doing. Another aspect is that many of them don’t have previous experience,” he told Aftenposten.  

Camilla Sundt said the arrival of the young Swedes has driven down hourly pay rates, while also noting that her findings could neither confirm nor repudiate a widely held view that Norwegian youngsters have become lazier.

Young Swedes have streamed over the border in recent years, with unemployment standing at 7.8 percent in Sweden compared to just 2.7 percent over the border.

Of even more pressing concern for the young Swedes is a domestic youth unemployment rate of 22.5 percent, as opposed to an 8-percent rate in Norway.

The number of Swedes working in Norway has risen from 15,000 in 2001 to more than 25,000 last year.

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