Photo Bertil Ericson/Scanpix

"Ethnic Swedes" comment lands PM in hot water

3:12 min

Sweden's Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfelt has walked into a storm of criticism when he talked about "ethnic Swedes" when countering claims that Sweden had high levels of unemployment in a media interview.

Reinfeldt was asked by a reporter for news agency TT what his government was doing about "high unemployment".

"It is not correct to say that Sweden is a country with mass unemployment. If one looks at ethnic Swedes in the prime of their life, we have very low unemployment," Reinfeldt responded.

Stefan Löfven, the leader of the main opposition party, the Social Democrats, said the prime minister's comments were an attempt to run questions away from the problem of high unemployment.

"I think that it is ugly that a prime minister in Sweden singles out these groups and separates them into us and them," Löfven said to TT.

In 2006, the jobless figure amongst native Swedes aged 25-54 years-old was 3.3 percent for the last quarter. This figure was 3.8 percent in the first quarter of 2012. For people born outside Sweden, the unemployment rate in the last quarter of 2006 was 11.2 percent and 14.8 percent in 2012. 

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