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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Swedes start to head for home

The major influx of young Swedes who’ve moved to Norway to find higher-paying jobs seems to be ebbing out. After 10 years with strong Swedish immigration, fewer labour migrants are crossing the border, and there’s been a decline in foreign workers arriving from other countries, too.

More Swedish labour migrants are now heading back over the bridge to Sweden at Svinesund, than moving to Norway for work. PHOTO:
More Swedish labour migrants are now heading back home to Sweden, like here over the bridge at the Svinesund border crossing, than moving to Norway for work. PHOTO:

Newspaper Aftenposten reported Monday that new figures from state statistics bureau SSB (Statistics Norway) show a major decline in net Swedish immigration (arrivals minus departures) since 2010, when it hit more than 3,000. The figure plunged to just 1,000 in 2012 and now more Swedes are leaving Norway than arriving.

It all has to do with economics. While Norway’s economy is in a downturn, mostly because of the dive in oil prices, Sweden’s economy is blossoming. Unemployment has been rising in Norway, but falling in Sweden. Norway’s long-strong currency, the krone, has weakened so much that it’s recently been worth less than Sweden’s for the first time in many years.

“There have never been so many available jobs in Sweden as there are now,” Harald Magnus Andreassen, the Norwegian chief economist of Swedbank, told Aftenposten. He’s not surprised many young Swedes are opting to stay in Sweden, while many in Norway are packing up and moving back home.

“The demand for workers in Norway has been much lower in Norway over the past year,” Andreassen said. “At the same time, the value of Norwegian wages isn’t worth as much compared with Swedish wages, because of the currency exchange rate.”

Higher wages, but much higher costs
Jennie Borg, a 27-year-old Swede working in the high-tech industry, is among those concluding that the advantages of working in Norway have declined. “Even though I earn a few thousand kroner more a month here than at home (in the central Swedish city of Örebro), my costs are nearly double,” Borg told Aftenposten. “We can’t afford to eat what we like to eat at home, and have to think very hard before even going out for a beer.”

Aftenposten reported that around 2,000 Swedes left Norway between April and September this year. According to SSB’s new numbers, 1,800 arrived, leading to negative net immigration.

Sweden and Poland, along with Lithuania, have produced the largest numbers of foreign workers in Norway for several years. Aftenposten reported that the numbers of Poles and Lituanians arriving in Norway have also sharply declined, from 36,000 in 2011 and 2012 to just 15,000 in 2014 and so far in 2015.

The next-largest immigrant groups are from Somalia, Pakistan and Iraq. Even though Norway has experienced a major influx of asylum seekers so far this year, from all three countries plus Syria and Afghanistan, it was unclear whether the net numbers for this year will actually surpass the strong labour migration Norway experienced in the top years of 2010 and 2011, because of all the job migrants now heading home. Berglund



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