Widening economic gaps
The economic gaps in Swedish society are widening, according to new statistics from Statistiska centralbyrån (Statistics Sweden). The average increase of overall income for Swedish households was at 37% in 2010. But that increase has not been fair for all. According to a report from Statistiska centralbyrån, the already well-to-do are the winners during the last decade, and the unemployed are the greatest losers. First off, there’s a great difference between those who have a job and those who don’t. Employees between the ages of 20 and 64 years increased their financial standards by 39%, while an unemployed person in the same age bracket increased their financial standards 6%. In 2010, an unemployed person lived on 57% of what an employed person lived on, the comparative number from 1999 was 75%. In the fifth of the population with the highest salaries, incomes increased 46%. If you look at the other end of the spectrum, the incomes among those with the smallest means increased only 20%. Even immigrants have as a group, gotten less of the cake. Those born abroad increased their income by 24% compared to those born in Sweden, who increased their income by 37%. The share of the population with the lowest financial standard has increased from 8% to 14%.

Swedish blue collar workers less healthy
Though their incomes increase more rapidly, workers are feeling less healthy than civil servants. In almost every other respect, workers in general have worse living conditions than civil servants, according to fresh numbers from Statistiska Centralbyrån (Statistics Sweden). “We knew there were differences, but this shows that the differences are increasing. It is worrisome,” says Kjell Rautio, welfare investigator at LO (Landsorganisationen i Sverige, the Swedish Trade Union Confederation). The study shows that workers smoke more, are less physically active and have greater problems with obesity. Bad habits are connected to lower education, but also stressful conditions at work, according to Rautio. “If you feel pressured and stressed, it’s more difficult to better your lifestyle,” he says. Roger Mörtvik, socio-political head at TCO (Tjänstemännens Centralorganisation, The Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees) is not surprised: “Many working trades have a work situation with less influence and more locked conditions—of course that matters. But it’s also about education, and what social status one has in general in society.” Mörtvik believes the differences will prevail, but become less evident. A sign of lessening gaps is the development in salaries during 2010. It shows a somewhat stronger development for workers than for professional employees in the private sector.

Junk market treasure
A man went to a junk market to while away some time after a meeting had been canceled - and left with a treasure. He paid 125 SEK ($18) for a painting that has now been valued at over 250,000 SEK ($37,436). The painting is believed to be by Åland artist Joel Pettersson (1892-1937). “The man saw the painting from across the room and realized it was a bargain, but he didn’t realize just what kind of bargain it was,” says Kjell Ekström at the Önningeby Museum on Åland, who had the painting sent to him to confirm it really is a Joel Pettersson. Ekström says everything indicates that it is. “Absolutely. I have no doubts. Everything is right: the motif, the way of painting, the color scheme and the material,” he says. The man who found the treasure might make a lot of money. “At recent auctions, works by (Pettersson) have collected close to 30,000 euros ($39,596),” says Ekström. According to him, the man intends to sell the painting.

Goodbye to the last TV-announcer
It was recently time to say good-bye to the old Swedish television tradition of having an announcer. The last announcer was Justine Kirk, and since she recently left, making her final appearance on March 4, there will no longer be a face in between television programs announcing what’s next; only a voice will be heard. “It feels bittersweet. Since I am the last one to be seen, I will speak for all announcers in saying thank you and good-bye,” Kirk said. She explained that she has worked with legendary announcers like Inger Egler, Henrik von Sydow and Arne Weise. “They were big names. They taught me everything. It’s been great,” she said.