Half of all unemployed people in Norway have an immigrant background. The unemployment figures are increasing sharply in this group. These are figures that tell a lot about the development of the Norwegian economy.
But also about a resource we must take care of.
Because the labor market is still crying out for greater access to labour. Therefore, we must ensure that we do our utmost to get these free hands into work as well.
Unemployment was stable in the last month of the year
On Friday, NAV published the unemployment figures for January. Although the number who are either completely unemployed or on measures has gradually increased over time, there is no drama to be traced. The numbers are stable and low.
At the same time, there is a great demand for labour, and many vacant jobs.
Where the growth in unemployment is highest is among jobseekers with an immigrant background. Compared to the same period last year, there are 8,200 more unemployed in this group, an increase of 27 per cent nationally.
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The main explanation for this is not very complicated. The two largest groups among these are Polish and Ukrainian citizens. For Polish migrant workers, the sudden brake in construction is the most important explanation for the fact that many of them are now without work.
For the Ukrainian unemployed, the explanation is that many of those who came to Norway during 2022 ended up in the queue of unemployed the following year, after they had settled in a municipality and finished the introduction program for refugees.
The growth we see among these is probably just a foretaste of what we have in store.
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So far, just over 70,000 refugees have come from Ukraine to Norway. 5,300 of them are registered as unemployed. In Møre og Romsdal there are now 218 completely unemployed Ukrainian citizens. Nationally, only 7,000 of the Ukrainian refugees have found work so far.
Now, of course, it is not the case that all Ukrainian refugees who have come to Norway will join the queue of unemployed. For example, a third of them are children.
Nevertheless, there is a great danger that this queue will grow strongly in the coming months. We may get a steep rise as more people living in municipalities finish the introduction program for refugees.
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Many industries in Norway are crying out for labour, and several of them are completely dependent on labor immigration. Therefore, it would be a senseless waste of resources to let a rapidly increasing number of job-seeking Ukrainian refugees go idle.
No, it is not easy to find work for all of these in one fell swoop.
If we do not make a concerted effort to make this happen, then we are doing both ourselves, the refugees and Norwegian welfare budgets a disservice. Here, public measures and employers in the private and public sector must work together.
Job-seeking refugees cannot open these doors alone.