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French jobless near 2017 record after 4.5 years of ‘Macronism’

Ramin Mazaheri
Press TV, Paris

France’s latest unemployment data showed a small improvement, but unemployment remains nearly 8%, at least officially.

5.9 million people remain unemployed, which is just a fraction less than the all-time high of 6.3 million in 2017. Back in September 2008, the total jobless numbered just 4.5 million- that means French unemployment has risen over 30% since the start of the Great Recession.

With re-election just six months away, many say that Macron is running out of time to devote resources to the jobless, or to devise a new system of accounting. Macron campaigned on a promise to bring unemployment under 7%.

Under Macron’s predecessor, Francois Hollande, the jobless rate increased 44 out of 46 months at one point. To change that Hollande controversially started excluding part-time, underemployed workers from the official count.

Macron went one better and declared that just looking for work once in the past month no longer makes someone unemployed. Macron also began revealing jobless data only once every three months, to avoid media discussion of the unpopular issue.

For years, many French economists have said that the official unemployment is undercounted by a third, which would put the real unemployment at well over 20%.

The Macron era had been one of constant economic unrest, but the coronavirus pause seems to have ended and protests recently are increasing in number and intensity.


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