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French unemployment rate falls to 7.1%, lowest since 1982

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Wearing protective face masks, job seekers visit a National Agency for Employment (Pole Emploi) office in Nice. — Reuters/File

Official data released Wednesday showed that the French unemployment rate stood at 7.1% in the last quarter of the year 2022 and was unchanged in the first three months of the current year, making it the lowest since 1982, reported Reuters.

The current rate of unemployment was also not disturbed by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

As the country is facing high living costs and eroding purchasing power of its citizens, the data could provide a cushion to beleaguered President Emmanuel Macron as he was facing country-wide protests on retirement age from 62 to 62.

Protesters attend a demonstration against Frances pension reform, ahead of French President Emmanuel Macrons visit to attend a ceremony paying tribute to Resistance leader Jean Moulin, in Lyon, central-eastern France, on May 8, 2023. — AFP
Protesters attend a demonstration against France’s pension reform, ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to attend a ceremony paying tribute to Resistance leader Jean Moulin, in Lyon, central-eastern France, on May 8, 2023. — AFP

The controversial bill he passed without a vote sparked angry protests in Paris and other cities and tumult in the legislature for months.

The move to use a special constitutional power enabling the government to pass legislation without a vote amounted to an admission that the government lacked a majority to increase the retirement age.

French riot police form a cordon as protesters and CGT labour union members attend a demonstration against Frances pension reform, on May 8, 2023. — AFP
French riot police form a cordon as protesters and CGT labour union members attend a demonstration against France’s pension reform, on May 8, 2023. — AFP

According to INSEE statistics office, youth unemployment fell 0.2 percentage points in the first quarter to 16.6%, more than 5 percentage points below pre-COVID-19 levels.

Long-term unemployment meanwhile stood at 1.8% of the active workforce, its lowest level since early 2009 — again excluding the second quarter of 2020 when inflation data was skewed because a COVID lockdown prevented people from registering as seeking employment.

When Emmanuel Macron became president, the unemployment rate of the country was 9.5% in 2017 and made lowering the number below 7% a central aim of reforms to loosen labour market rules and boost vocational training.

Recently, in a bid to invite business executives to invest their money, President Macron met tech-billionaire and CEO Tesla Elon Musk Monday in Paris to discuss future ventures as he hosted a conference to convince the businesspeople to pour their money into his country.

The pair’s meeting took place at Elysee Palace before they left for Versailles for the latest edition of the president’s Choose France conference where Macron seeks to convince people from the business community to invest in France.

45-year-old President wrote on Twitter: “We talked about the attractiveness of France and the significant progress in the electric vehicle and energy sectors.”

“We have so much to do together,” he added.



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