The unemployment rate in France fell to 8.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018 from 9.1 percent in the previous period and slightly below market expectations of 9.1 percent. It was the lowest jobless rate since the first quarter of 2009.
In metropolitan France only, the unemployment rate declined to 8.5 percent in the fourth quarter from 8.8 percent in the previous period as the number of unemployed decreased by 90,000 to 2.5 million. The unemployment rate strongly decreased among youths (-1.7 points). It also decreased for persons aged 25 to 49 (-0.2 points) and was stable for those aged 50 and over. Among the unemployed, 990 thousand were seeking a job for at least one year. The long-term unemployment rate stood at 3.4 percent in the December quarter, the same as in the previous period and below 3.7 percent a year earlier.
The employment rate of the population aged 15-64 years increased by 0.2 points to 66.1 percent in the fourth quarter, its highest level since the early 1980s. Over the quarter, it went up among every age groups. Full-time employment rate rose 0.3 points to 54.4 percent in Q4, reaching its highest level since 2003 (beginning of the quarterly series). Part-time employment rate was stable at 11.7 percent.
About 5.8 percent of the employed were underemployed, meaning that they had a part-time job but wished to work more. This share decreased by 0.2 points compared to Q3 2018, after a similar rise in the previous quarter.
The activity rate of people aged 15-64 was stable at 72.3 percent, remaining at the highest level since the series began in 1975. The activity rate was virtually stable among youths and persons aged 25 to 49, but increased sharply among persons aged 55 to 64 (+0.5 points over a quarter), particularly among women. Among inactive people, 1.5 million wished to work without being considered as unemployed according to the ILO definition: they made up the halo of unemployment. The number increased by 32 thousand quarter-on-quarter.
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