The unemployment rate remained stable in the first quarter, with 7.1% of the active population in France, according to figures published Wednesday May 17, 2023 by INSEE. The number of unemployed, according to the International Labor Office (ILO), reached 2.2 million people, or 7,000 fewer than the previous quarter.

The unemployment rate in the first quarter is 0.3 points lower than its level a year before in the first quarter of 2022, and 3.4 points compared to its peak in mid-2015. If we except for the decline during the health crisis, we have to go back to the first quarter of 2008 (7.2%) and the second quarter of 1982 (7.1%) to find equivalent levels. These figures revive the prospect of full employment desired by Emmanuel Macron.

What does this term coming from the mouth of the executive mean? Full employment is the level of employment at which demands are considered to be covered by offers, and vice versa. This notion also includes what is called frictional unemployment, that is to say the time it takes for a job seeker to find work between two contracts. In summary, it is the irreducible level of unemployment in a country.

To achieve full employment, “the French economy must be able to create around 800,000 jobs by the end of the five-year term if we want to reach 5% unemployment”, detailed the Minister of Labor, Olivier Dussopt for BFMTV. This figure is increased to “1.3 million if we want to achieve 5% unemployment to be accompanied by a reduction in what is sometimes called the unemployment halo and thus go even further in terms of reality full employment,” he continued. The “halo” refers to people wishing to return to the job market, but who are not considered unemployed by the International Labor Office.

Ultimately, this objective is certainly achievable, but a turnaround in the economic situation can have the opposite effect and, therefore, thwart the forecasts. In addition, by 2027, more than 800,000 jobs would need to be created for the unemployment rate to be 5%.

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