BOX STORY: Key figures on migrants in the Finnish labor market

by , under Enrique Tessieri

If there is discrimination in the Finnish labor market, how can we measure it? What do the facts below about migrants in the Finnish labor market tell us? This box story is part of a larger feature on migrant employment called, How systemic racism and discrimination works in the Finnish workplace.

  • Total number of people of foreign origin ages 18-64: 73,685 persons (43,858 males and 29,827 females);
  • Entrepreneurs of foreign origin: 8,131 people (5,361 males, 2,770 females);
  • Unemployed foreigners 30,281 (15,391 males, 14,891 females), or 27% of the workforce, according to the latest figures from 2014.
  • Migrant unemployment in 2014 (latest figures) was 27% versus 13.61% during the same period under review for the whole country;
  • Finland’s labor markets are racialized;
  • Language per se isn’t the key factor that will ensure success in the Finnish labor market although it helps;
  • Migrant women, especially from Africa and the Middle East suffer the greatest unemployment;
  • Higher unemployment among women of foreign origin cannot be explained by educational level. Both men and women of foreign origin have roughly the same educational level;
  • The Finnish labor market is extremely segmented: 60% of all men working in the cleaning business and about 50% as kitchen or food workers are migrant males;
  • The employment level of people with foreign and Finnish origin differ slightly, or 71.2% and 73.8%, respectively;
  • Among women with foreign and Finnish background the difference is much higher at 56.1% and 73.5, respectively;
  • Wage disparity was 25% compared with people of  Finnish origin, who made annually an average of 36,000 euros versus 27,500 euros made by migrants;
  • If a male of Finnish origin makes 1 euro and a female of Finnish origin 0.80 euros, for migrants it totals 0.50 euros, according to Statistics Finland researcher Pekka Myrskylä;
  • The gap in unemployment benefits is even higher, totaling 39% (15,000 euros versus 9,400 euros) and up to 59% for those who are outside the labor force (7,500 euros versus 3,100 euros);
  • Certain professions in Finland such as cleaners, cooks and waiters attract only foreigners because the wages they pay are unacceptable to white Finns.

The most comprehensive study on migrants above,”Survey on work and well-being among people of foreign origin,” was published in 2015. Published by Statistics Finland, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, and the National Institute for Health and Welfare, it reveals conclusively that migrant participation in the labor market is disproportional when it comes to nationality and gender. 

If you are of foreign origin in the 20-64 age group, you would be at the top level of employment if you were: a national of Finland, EU or Efta country (75%); from Estonia (76%), EU, Efta or North America (75%); employment brought you to Finland (86%); have lived in Finland for over 10 years (69%); spoke Finnish as your mother tongue (75%) or at an advanced level (72%); and moved to Finland when you were under 7 years (69%) or 20-29 years (68%).

Contrarily, belonging to the lowest employment level group you’d have the following background: be from a non-EU/Efta country (54%); from the Middle East or Northern Africa (46%) and the rest of Africa (48%); moved to Finland as a refugee (39%); lived under five years in Finland (56%); speak intermediate (58%) or basic Finnish (57%); and moved to the country when you were at least 30 years old (60%) or 7-19 years old (61%).