65% of jobless without unemployment benefit
Only just over a third of those unemployed in Sweden have access to unemployment benefit, the newspaper Dagens Nyheter reports. The data, from October last year, show a big change compared to the year the centre right government came into power, in 2006, when most unemployed people received benefits from the unemployment insurance system.
There are several reasons for this dramatic drop, according to Tord Strannefors, head of prognosis at the Swedish Public Employment Service.
In 2007 the fees for the unemployment insurance were raised, causing many people to leave the system all together. But the rules have also become stricter in terms of how long you will have had to work, before you have access to the unemployment benefit. Many of those unemployed today are young people fresh out on the labour market, newly arrived immigrant and those who have earlier been on longer periods of sick leave.
For those who are jobless and not able to get unemployment benefit, often the only option is to turn to the social welfare system.
There is an ongoing political debate on whether to make the unemployment insurance compulsory. It was an election promise from the centre right parties in the 2006 election, but after sharp criticism from the trade unions as well as the employers organisations, the Government ordered a review of the issue, which will not be finished until 2013.
At the moment, the trade unions administrate the unemployment insurance system. The unions as well as opposition are against making it compulsory, as they claim that removing the competition between different unions now providing the insurance will lead to a more expensive system with worse service. It also risks weakening the trade unions, and what is seen as "the Swedish model" on the labour market, as the insurance system is one reason for people to be members of a trade union.