As the economy shows signs of slowing down in Norway, fewer immigrants from eastern Europe are arriving in the country looking for work. More are still coming from southern Europe, but many find it hard to find a job despite Norway’s low unemployment rate.
Newspaper Dagsvisen reported on Wednesday how Theo Nikolaidis from Greece has been unable to find a permanent job after two months of trying. He felt compelled to leave his wife and two children at home on the island of Paros to try building a new life in Norway, but all he’s been able to find is a temporary job delivering newspapers three days a week.
Not giving up
“I think I’ve sent out 360 job applications since I got here two months ago,” Nikolaidis told Dagsavisen. He ran a restaurant on Paros for eight years, but had to close it when Greek tourists no longer had money for holidays. Of 13 adults in his closest family, he said only three have jobs.
He thought he’d have better luck in Norway, but failed to even get a job washing up in a restaurant in Oslo. He’s not giving up yet, though, and still thinks his chances for a livelihood to support his family are better in Norway than in Greece.
As residents of the EU or countries within the European Free Trade Association, Nikolaidis and others like him are free to move to Norway and obtain working permission. Immigration agency UDI (Utlendingsdirektoratet) reports that 298 Greeks have registered their arrival so far this year. Last year the number was 163.
Arrivals from the rest of Europe are down, according to UDI, from 52,919 last year to 46,446, with the most coming from Poland, Lithuania, Germany, Latvia and Great Britain. Eastern Europeans still make up the largest portion of so-called “job immigrants” (those who come looking for work) but the 16,600 who arrived from Poland was down by around 5,000 from 2010. “It may be because the economic situation in Poland is better than it was a few years ago,” UDI director Ida Børresen told Dagsavisen. “At the same time, the economic growth in Norway is starting to flatten out.”
Stoltenberg urges moderation
That continues to worry Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who has warned for the past year that the debt and euro crises in Europe will affect the Norwegian economy. He repeated his warnings this week and once again urged trade union leaders to show moderation when campaigning for new wage and benefit packages for their members next spring.
“We need labour agreements that will secure jobs,” Stoltenberg said when meeting with union bosses at Gol on Tuesday. He wouldn’t specify what a satisfactory pay and benefits package might consist of, but he worries that Norway is moving into a new period with rising fears of higher unemployment because of the international economic turbulence.
“It may turn out better than we fear, but we can’t take any chances,” Stoltenberg told Dagsavisen.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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