French unemployment slips to 14-year low in first quarter of 2022

·1 min read

Unemployment in France dropped slightly in the first quarter of the year to its lowest rate in 14 years, giving President Emmanuel Macron a boost ahead of legislative elections.

According to the INSEE statistics agency this Tuesday, France's unemployment rate slipped to 7.3 percent from 7.4 percent in the first three months of 2022.

A poll of 10 economists conducted by the Reuters news agency had expected the rate to remain unchanged.

This is the lowest level of unemployment in the country since the second quarter of 2008 - apart from an anomalous, unrepresentative drop at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic when jobseekers could not look for work during a nationwide lockdown.

Boost for Macron ahead of legislative polls

Apart from during that period, unemployment has come down steadily since Macron first took office in 2017, when the jobless rate stood at 9.5 percent.

The latest, albeit marginal, improvement will come as good news for Macron, who was re-elected for a second five-year term last month as he prepares for legislative elections in June that will determine whether he gets a parliamentary majority to govern.

Beyond the headline decrease in joblessness, INSEE's quarterly employment report showed that youth unemployment rose to 16.3 percent from 16 percent in the final quarter of 2021, when it hit the lowest level since 1981.

Meanwhile, the employment rate, the share of the workforce in work, rose to 68 percent reaching the highest level since INSEE began keeping records in 1975.

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