The Swedish unemployment rate is currently lower than the average for the EU-28. Over the past couple of years, the unemployment rate in Sweden has stayed around six per cent. In 2009, however, it rose to over eight per cent, largely due to the international economic recession. Currently, Germany and the Czech Republic have the lowest unemployment rates in the EU.

The International Labour Organization, ILO, has constructed an international standard for measuring unemployment in order to allow making comparisons between unemployment statistics from different countries. The diagram presents an international comparison of unemployment statistics for a number of countries.

The definition of an unemployed person is someone who

  • does not currently hold an employment,
  • is free take up an employment within 14 days’ time,
  • has been actively looking for a job for the past 4 weeks or
  • is about to take up an employment within three months.

The labour force is considered to be made up of all people between 15-74 years of age who are either employed or unemployed. People working in their homes and people on long-term sick lists are not included in this group. Students are also excluded if they are not prepared to take up employment or already actively looking for a job.