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Thursday's papers: Battling unemployment, pricey Helsinki, first medallist's disappointment

Thursday's newspapers feature news about tough measures a government working group will propose to battle long-term unemployment. Compared to other areas, it will become comparatively even more expensive to live in the capital area. Boxer wins a bittersweet Olympic bronze medal.

Image: Yle

Finland's largest daily Helsingin Sanomat featured an article about a Ministry of Employment working group charged with finding new ways to fight chronic, long-term unemployment. 

The group, which was assembled last spring, has nearly completed its work, according to the paper, and details about which measures they plan to recommend to government to get people back into the working world will be revealed later on Thursday.

However, the paper writes, some of the solutions the working group will probably propose include some "tough measures."

The group will reportedly propose shortening earnings-related unemployment benefits by a "staggering level" to 150 days - while the benefits are currently generally to up to 500 days of unemployment.

The apparent reasoning behind this, the paper explains, is that the longer-term benefits prolong unemployment.

The paper says the group will also suggest specifically tweaking collective agreement salary standards for the long-term unemployed - enabling companies to hire people at "trainee-level salaries," or some 60 to 80 percent of standard pay - ostensibly enabling firms to hire staff more freely.

The group will also make several other proposals including changing pension guidelines and boosting training programmes. Their work is not yet complete and will meet again next week, the paper writes

Currently there are some 130,000 people in Finland unemployed for more than one year. Unemployment costs the state nearly six billion euros every year, the paper writes.

Capital living cost proportions

If you think housing costs in the Helsinki area are high now, get ready for some bad news. A study by Pellervo Economic Research (PTT) finds that not only do homeowners and renters in the capital region pay more for their housing; proportionally more of their salaries will increasingly go towards mortgages, fees and rent.

As an example, Helsingin Sanomat writes, buying a 60 square meter apartment in Helsinki costs on average 1,469 euros per month, while in Tampere as similar flat costs some 989 euros.

Every month, the average Helsinki resident shells out some 59 percent of his or her income towards rent, while in Tampere that figure is only about 40 percent.

That's perhaps not terribly surprising to many people, but the study also says that a family with children in Helsinki currently pays about 41 percent of their income on their average 90 square metre flat. That figure is projected to climb even higher, to some 45 percent by 2018.

This year housing costs are expected to increase across the country by an average of about 2.1 percent, and by 2018 the prices are expected to grow by 2.8 percent annually, according to the Finnish Real Estate Federation's chief economist Jukka Kero, the paper writes.

Bronze medal disappointment

Virtually all of Thursday's papers featured news about the bronze medal that Olympic lightweight boxer Mira Potkonen won on Wednesday - but despite the fact it was Finland's first medal in the games, it was bittersweet for Potkonen.

According to Hufvudstadsbladet, Potkonen arrived to the press area in tears after her loss to Chinese boxer Yin Juhua.

"Everything was difficult today. I didn't achieve my level of boxing," a visibly shaken Potkonen said, unable to explain her disappointment.

She is in top physical condition, was prepared for the match and received a lot of audience support from at the Riocentro Arena, the paper writes.

"I was more tense about this match than usual. I think the reason I lost was more about what was going on in my head than anything else," she said.

"Right now this bronze medal doesn't feel good at all," she said with tears in her eyes, "but maybe it will some day in the future."

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