Wage setting does not cause youth unemployment
There is no interaction between the proportion of unemployed young people (15-24 years old) and the lowest wage level. Neither is there any connection between the employment rate and the lowest wage level set by collective agreements. For instance, Spain and Luxemburg have low initial wages but high youth unemployment, while starting wages in Norway and Denmark are relatively high but youth unemployment is low.
This is stated in the LO report “Lowest wages, wage distribution and youth unemployment”, which was presented on May 5. The report is based on international comparisons with statistics from the OECD etc.
The primary cause of unemployment among young people in Sweden is lack of education. 20 percent of an age group do not complete upper secondary school.
In order to counteract youth unemployment, the education system must be reformed so that it is able to support those less motivated. Everybody should be able to reach the level of education necessary to get a job and keep it, says LOs Negotiating Secretary Per Bardh.
Those who work for the lowest wages set by collective agreements have an unfavourable position in the labour market, often temporary part-time employment.
If those who already earn the least got lower wages, it would be even more difficult for them to be able to live on their pay, which is unreasonable. Moreover, this implies serious social consequences that would affect all of us, continues Per Bardh.
Employers want to explain youth unemployment by the fact that wage levels are too high and working conditions too good. At the same time, the government pursues a policy that lays the foundation for an increasingly wide low-wage sector, in which primarily young people and women are employed. This is a frightening development. Such solutions would create a society with increased inequality and social anxiety. This fails to correspond with our trade union striving after a fair wage policy based on solidarity and its positive effects on individuals as well as society as a whole, states Per Bardh.