The Economic Situation for Small Businesses in Norrbotten Stands Out in Sweden

Luleå havn
Lulelå is the largest city in Norrbotten. A major green shift is currently taking place in the industries in Luleå and Norrbotten. (Photo: Peter Rosèn).

Norrbotten had the largest share of small businesses with increased turnover in the past year out of all the counties in Sweden. Norrbotten's small businesses also have the country's most positive economic prospects.

Norwegian version.

The small businesses in Norrbotten have the most positive economic prospects in Sweden.

That is revealed in Småföretagsbarometeret 2023 [the Small Business Barometer of 2023, journ. translation].

According to the report, the economic situation for small businesses in Sweden's northernmost country, Norrbotten, has been further strengthened after last year's upturn. Norrbotten County can account for the most robust business cycle in the country in the past twelve months.

Although the county's businesses expect a somewhat weaker development over the next year, the prospects are the most expansive among the Swedish counties.

Seven out of ten businesses in Norrbotten (71%) see good opportunities for expansion, which is the largest share in the country. Close behind are Uppsala and Jönköping. Most optimistic are Norrbotten's service businesses, 73%, compared to 68% within the industry. 

Increased turnover in Norrbotten

Furthermore, it is reported that employment growth among the Norrbotten businesses is strong, but this has slowed down after the past year's strong upturn.

Despite a somewhat uncertain economic situation, small businesses will still increase the number of employees in the coming year, the report reads.

Regarding turnover, Norrbotten is the county in Sweden with the largest share of small businesses with increased turnover in the past year. Slowed-down turnover growth is expected for the coming year, but a larger share of businesses expect increased turnover in Norrbotten compared to other counties.

However, profitability among the county's businesses has not improved to a large extent, despite the growth in turnover. "Instead, the businesses' profitability prospects continue to be poor, but not as poor as in the rest of the country as a whole, in which the profitability is experienced to be the lowest since the crisis in the 90s," according to the report.

Lacks labor

The largest obstacle to growth, according to reports from small businesses in Norrbotten, is the lack of skilled labor. The labor shortage is widespread and includes both industry and service-producing businesses. Low demand is marked as the second largest obstacle to growth but is not as widespread as in the rest of the country.

The Small Business Barometer is an economic examination that shows how Sweden's businesses view the economic situation and their expectations for development in the next 12 months. It is based on interviews with entrepreneurs who have a minimum of one and a maximum of 49 employees.

Facts about the business sector in Norrbotten County

The Norrbotten region is the country's seventh least populated region and has the fourth highest median income. Unemployment is the second or fourth lowest, depending on the source.

Population growth has been the third lowest in the last three years.

Luleå is the largest city in the region.

Slightly fewer inhabitants of Norrbotten work in the private sector than in the country as a whole and the county's fourth largest employer is a state-owned enterprise.

Norrbotten is facing a transformative development that is largely driven by an industrial transition to a more sustainable production method. A number of large industrial projects are in the works, while others are in the start-up phase. In the ore fields, two towns are to be moved to enable continued mining, which creates jobs for the county's construction companies.

The green shift in Northern Sweden will also require a lot of energy. Investments are therefore being made in the production and distribution of energy. The construction of the Norrbotnia Line is in the works in the south in order to ensure the freight traffic's needs and also shorten the travel time along the coast.

A major expansion of the port capacity is also planned for Luleå.

Source: Småföretagsbarometeret 2023

This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by Birgitte Annie Molid Martinussen.