Skellefteå may surpass historic mark this year

Head of marketing Helena Renström thinks that Skellefteå will reach its goal of 90,000 inhabitants in 2030.
Head of marketing Helena Renström thinks that Skellefteå will reach its goal of 90,000 inhabitants in 2030.

If the forecast is correct Skellefteå may exceed a historic mark and become bigger than ever in 2023. Several important factors are pointing in the right direction in the quest for a growing population – but head of marketing Helena Renström does not see the comparison with Luleå as one of them.

Skellefteå 4 juli 2023 12:00

– The best thing for us and our possibilities to succeed is if the entire region grows together, she says.

Skellefteå’s growth last year of just over 1,000 inhabitants is the highest in 50 years. Still, Skellefteå needs to more than double the pace if it is to succeed with the goal of 90,000 inhabitants in 2030 and 100,000 in 2040.

The population increase in Skellefteå is supposed to peak in 2026 according to estimates.

The population goal is important for an increased tax basis and to solve the equation with the Northvolt expansion, subcontractors, other service companies and new needs within public operations.

– We perform really well but it's not good enough. Perhaps that says something about the challenge, says Helena Renström.

In spite of this, the trend looks promising. The increase in the first quarter of 2023 was 358 people. Which can be compared with the first quarter of 2021 when the increase was 108 people.

– The first and third quarters are normally weaker for us as many students move away then. The second quarter is strong when the students move home. Based on that we were very pleased with the first quarter. We were actually in ninth place nationally. But we’ve also learned that it is the year-end figures that mean anything.

”In principle we must double the numbers moving here the next few years”, says Helena Renström.

The forecast for 2023 is an increase of 1,400 people. If that becomes reality, Skellefteå could beat the record from 1994 of 75,822 people when the population of Skellefteå was the largest it has been.

– Either we beat it this year or it’ll be next year.

But Skellefteå will need a steady increase in population many years going forward. In the municipality’s forecast it will peak in 2026 with about 3,000 people.

– The estimate is based on a large number of data points, everything from when Northvolt is to ramp-up to an increase in the public sector, private investments and housing construction, says Helena Renström.

The population record for Skellefteå municipality is from 1994. That could get beaten this year.

However the birth rates are declining, in Skellefteå and in the country as a whole.

– That means that the difference between moving in and moving out determines whether we succeed. In principle we must double the numbers moving in the next few years.

Since 2020 the number of people moving in has increased by 1,000 from around 2,000 to approximately 3,000. The majority are in the ages when people normally have children, between 20–40 years of age. 

At the same time, the number of people leaving town is decreasing somewhat also among women.

– This is positive since we have a somewhat higher proportion of men in the municipality. However, we see an increase in men moving in. We need to work on the structure of enterprise in order to compensate for this, says Helena Renström.

Will you reach 90,000 in 2030?

– Yes, I believe so. That’s what we’re working towards.

Luleå must achieve a yearly increase by 1,200 people if the goal of 100,000 inhabitants in 2040 is to be reached.

If that goal is reached, Skellefteå may surpass Luleå in population numbers. Even if there is something attractive about this, that is secondary, says Helena Renström.

– We see it as us being part of one large region of growth. The best thing would be if the other municipalities also succeed because we would then get a higher concentration of people and it would be easier for companies to find expertise.

Luleå has a goal of 100,000 inhabitants in 2040. Here the municipality is struggling with a lower pace of population growth than desired, 300–400 people per year. 

If the goal is to be achieved Luleå must reach an average increase of almost 1,200 people per year.

”If Skellefteå succeeds that’s good for us as more people are turning their attention to the north”, says Elisabeth Ennefors, head of communications at Luleå municipality.

However, large industrial projects are knocking on the door and up to 1,500 new jobs may be created based on the plans Talga, Fertiberia and LKAB have presented at the same time as Luleå is also counting on the establishment of H2 Green Steel to spill over to the municipality.

– We’re thinking that once it gets going it may be the case that Luleå grows exponentially. We still see the goal as robust and achievable, says Elisabeth Ennefors, head of communications.

Luleå is working closely with Boden and is glancing at some of what Skellefteå has already done.

– We’re not in competition in any way. If Skellefteå succeeds then that’s good for us as more eyes will turn in this direction.

Once the increase gets going Luleå may grow exponentially and thereby regain lost ground, Elisabeth Ennefors believes.

Elisabeth Ennefors talks about the factors that will become crucial in the next few years:

  • The attractive forces of the city such as events, culture and how public transport and schools are functioning. 
  • Getting more students from Luleå University of Technology to stay in northern Sweden.
  • But also the ambassadorship the municipality would like for the Luleå residents themselves to represent.

– You cannot buy 20,000 inhabitants with adverts or marketing. Then it would just be a façade or a film. It is determined in how we talk about our city and how attractive our life and our lifestyle is. Not least to inhabitants from other parts of Europe. We saw this for ourselves when we went to the emigration expo in the Netherlands in April, says Elisabeth Ennefors.

Good trends in Skellefteå

Increased pace in population growth.

More people are moving in, the majority of which are in the age range when people normally have children which leads to an exponential increase going forward.

The numbers moving out are decreasing, also among women.

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