Reports 2014/06

Refugees and the labour market, 4th quarter 2012

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This report describes the labour market situation for refugees 15 – 74 years old settled in Norway in the 4th quarter of 2012. The figures for the refugees are compared to the immigrant group as a whole, where refugees are included, and the entire Norwegian population. The refugees’ family immigrants are also included among the refugees.

By the 4th quarter of 2012 a total of 76 557 refugees were registered as employed. They constituted 50.1 per cent of this population group. In the whole Norwegian population the employment rate was 68.7 per cent and among immigrants in total, 62.8 per cent. The employment rate within the refugee-population declined slightly with 0.7 percentage points since 2011, while it was unchanged among immigrants in total. In the population as a whole there was a decrease of 0.4 percentage points.

Refugees from Sri Lanka and Chile had the highest employment rates at 70.7 and 71.1 per cent respectively. Refugees from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Vietnam also had relatively high rates at 65.6 and 64.3 per cent respectively. The lowest rates were recorded among refugees from Somalia at 27.8 per cent. Then followed refugees from Eritrea and Iraq at 39.3 and 42.1 per cent respectively.

The duration of residence in Norway is of great importance to the level of employment among refugees. Among those who have resided 4 years or less in Norway, the employment rate is far below the average of refugees. This group is, however, in a phase of adaption to the Norwegian society and is therefore mainly outside the labour force. Refugees with 7 years of residence or more have rates some above the refugee-average, while refugees who have resided up to 20 years in Norway have the highest level of employment, above 60 per cent.

Among the employed refugees 65.6 per cent were in full-time employment (defined as 30 hours or more per week), while the corresponding rate in the entire employed population was 73.5 per cent. Full-time work is most common among refugees with a generally high level of employment.

The education level also has a considerable impact on the employment rate. The group with compulsory education only has in particular the lowest employment rate irrespective of refugee background. This group therefore reduces the average, whether it is among refugees or the population as a whole. Since refugees have a much larger share of only compulsatory educated people than the whole population, this is an important contributing cause behind the differences in employment.

Among those at the same educational level there are smaller differences between refugees and the population as a whole, than comparisons done irrespective of educational level. If the education moreover is fullfilled in Norway, the differences almost equalize. This is, however, a refugee group with a long duration of residence in Norway.

Figures of employment by refugee-status show that asylum-seekers are closest to the average of refugees with a rate of employment at 49.8 per cent. Resettlement- refugees and family-connected are quite equal with rates slightly above 48 per cent. The rest group, “Other/Unspecified” is the refugee group with the highest rate of employment, at almost 63 per cent. This group is constituted mainly of refugees who have been granted a collective protection in Norway, and it has a large share from Balkan, mostly Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Family-connected have the highest share of gross unemployment rate (i.e. registered unemployed and participants in labour markets schemes put together). With a share of 9.7 per cent they lie 1.7 percentage points above the refugee-average and 7.6 per cent above the whole population.

Acknowledgement: The work is financed by the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion

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