The number of councils with a majority of residents in work has fallen drastically in the past four years, according to study by the municipal policy research group Kora.
The Kora study found that only three of Denmark’s 98 councils currently have a majority of employed residents. This is a significant reduction from 2009, when 59 councils could boast that a majority of their residents were in work.
The out-of-work population includes children and students, but according to Kurt Houlberg, Kora's head of research, it is the rising number of senior citizens and unemployed residents that poses the biggest threat.
“These are the greatest problems facing councils are facing both in the short and, even more pressingly, in the long term,” Houlberg told DR News, adding that fewer people in work meant less tax income for councils to spend.
“It could mean that welfare needed to be approached in a different way and that residents ought to lower their expectations about what level of welfare they can expect in the future.”
The economy minister, Margrethe Vestager (Radikale), said the study showed the importance of reducing the number of people receiving welfare and increasing the number of people in work.
“Our tax reform made it more attractive to work and now we are making it more attractive to set up, run and develop a business in order to create more jobs,” Vestager told DR, referring to the job plan the government is currently putting together.
Anders Samuelsen, leader of the libertarian Liberal Alliance party, said he was shocked by Kora’s findings.
“This is a serious threat to Denmark’s future and means that we are on our way to becoming a poorer country,” Samuelsen told the Ritzau news bureau. “If it continues it means that we will no longer be able to help those that need help most.”
The only councils with a majority of residents in work are Frederiksberg, Copenhagen and Egedal councils.