Almost all of the 38,000 new jobs created in Norway last year were filled by immigrant labour, reports state statistics bureau SSB. Around three out of four of those jobs went to foreigners who have settled in Norway, with the rest filled by foreigners on short-term permits, according to newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN).
The Norwegian Federation of Trade Unions (Landsorganisasjonen, LO) admitted to being surprised by the fresh statistics, which confirm that most of the country’s employment growth last year hinged on immigration. LO has used the numbers for its own analysis, which found that the annual net immigration to Norway now amounts to 1 percent of the population. In relative terms, no other country in Europe attracted more immigrants.
The trend started in 2004, when the European Union (EU) admitted several new member countries from Eastern and Central Europe. Norway is not an EU member, but through the European Economic Area treaty (EØS-avtalen), Norway is obliged to open its labour markets to immigration from EU and EEA members in order to gain access to EU markets.
In low-pay industries like cleaning and temporary work, more than half of those employed are immigrants. In the building industry, one worker in five is an immigrant. LO also found that in industries like retail, restaurants and hotels, the number of Norwegian workers dropped steadily in recent years, while the number of immigrants rose. An LO economist, Liv Sannes, warned that those new immigrants put pressure on weaker groups in the labour market, including young workers, people with health problems, and low-skilled immigrants who are in Norway already.