Abstract This paper explores the reasons behind the lower unemployment rate of the Swedish-speaking minority, in comparison with that of the Finnish-speaking majority, in Finland. Cross section statistics on labour market status and outflows from unemployment are analysed. No significant between-group differences in labour force participation are found. Differences in unemployment cannot either be explained by human capital factors or local labour market conditions. Being a Swedish-speaker decreases the odds of being unemployed by 30%, while it increases the transition rate from unemployment by 15%. Language proficiency and social integration are the likely reasons behind these differences.