Polish workers leave Norway, Swedes are sticking around

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If you spend any time at all in Oslo these days, it’s easy to get the impression that there are lots of Swedes in town. They’re working in stores, hotels, restaurants and a long list of other businesses. Workers from Poland, however, appear to finally be giving up on the job market in Norway.

New figures released this week by immigration authorities show that the number of Polish citizens receiving work permits in Norway fell 73 percent during the first six months of this year, compared to the same period last year. That’s when 12,350 people from Poland received Norwegian work permits, compared to 4,625 this year.The number of renewals was also way down, from 14,141 last year to 11,478 this year, a fall of 19 percent. Most of the Polish permit holders work in the construction industry, where jobs have dried up like they have elsewhere.

There also were fewer guest workers arriving from Germany, down 45 percent, and Lithuania, down 38 percent, although permit renewals for those already in Norway were relatively steady.

All told, permits granted to foreign workers from India to Bulgaria and Great Britain fell 43 percent, to 15,146, while overall renewals were down 5 percent.

The Swedes, however, are still attracted to the Norwegian job market. Faced with high unemployment rates and a difficult economy at home, they seem keen to stay in Norway, particularly in the Oslo area, where there are still jobs to be had in the service sector, to which the Swedes gravitate.

At the beginning of this year, there were nearly 11,000 Swedes working in Oslo, up 14 percent from the year before, according to city statistics. In the early 1990s, there were only 3,000 Swedish citizens registered with work permits in Oslo.

Most are living in the Frogner district of Oslo and they’ve mostly all come to work. Only 500 were registered as students, reports newspaper Aften .