Reports 2019/01

Refugees inside and outside the labour market 2017

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This report describes the labour market situation for refugees 15-66 years old settled in Norway in the 4th. quarter of 2017. The figures for the refugees are compared to the entire Norwegian population aged 15-66 years. The refugees’ family immigrants are also included among the whole group of refugees.

In the 4th quarter of 2017 a total of 95 548 refugees were registered as employed. They constituted 48.5 per cent of this population group 15-66 years of age. In the whole Norwegian population the employment rate in the corresponding age group was 71.5 per cent, i.e. a disparity of 23 percentage points. The employment rate among immigrants increased by 1.1 percentage points since 2016. In the whole population the increase was 0.5 percentage points.

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, because many of them participate in the Introduction programme for newly settled refugees. Refugees with 4-6 years of residence have 46 per cent employed, while those with 7 to 19 years in Norway have employment rates at 52 – 56 per cent. Among refugees resided 20 years or more in Norway, the employment rate lies slightly above 60 per cent.

However, the duration of residence in Norway do not have the same impact on the employment rate among all groups. For instance enter male refugees the labour market earlier than females. There are great gender disparities (in men’s favour) among those who have resided 4-9 years in Norway. Among some selected nationalities with more than 4 years of residence in Norway we can, moreover, observe a higher level of employment among refugees from Eritrea, Myanmar, Ethiopia and Afghanistan compared to those from Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Russia.

The refugees’ age at the time of settlement in Norway is also of importance. Those who settled in Norway at the age 0-15 years have employment rates between 70 and 74 per cent when resided 20 years or more.

The education level also has a considerable impact on the employment rate. Persons with compulsory education only have in particular the lowest employment rate irrespective of refugee background. Since more than the half of the refugees have compulsory education only, this group reduces the average employment rate. Refugees who have completed an upper secondary or higher education in Norway have, however, an employment rate close to the whole population at the same educational level. Many of those refugees have settled in Norway when they were quite young.

Since refugees have relatively more new-comers on the labour market than the whole population, the share of jobseekers is greater, 5.4 versus 2.0 per cent. In addition 9.8 per cent of the refugees participate in the Introduction programme and 9.1 per cent participate in formal education. When the share of employed is added, the refugees have in total a share of 72.8 per cent within the labour force or in education (the Introduction programme included) versus 82.7 per cent in the whole population aged 15-66 years, i.e. a disparity of 9.9 percentage points.

67.5 per cent of the employed refugees had whole time occupations. The corresponding rate in the whole population was 78.3 per cent. Among the refugees the whole time rate is to some extent proportionate to the employment rate. This means that the refugees with the smallest employment rates also have the smallest rates of whole time occupations.

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