February 25, 2020
A New York Times article on the status of France’s president Emmanuel Macron gave him some free public relations work touting the decline in France’s unemployment rate to 8.1 percent. It tells readers:
“The intractable unemployment rate, slayer of his predecessors, appears finally to be bending to a French president’s touch, recently reaching its lowest rate in 12 years at 8.1 percent.”
This is a 1.4 percentage point drop from when Macron took office in May of 2017. In the same period, unemployment in Finland declined by 2.1 percentage points to 6.6 percent. In the Netherlands, the unemployment rate declined by 1.9 percentage points to 3.2 percent. Unemployment in Italy dropped by 1.6 percentage points to 9.8 percent. In short, this was a period of declining unemployment throughout western Europe and France’s performance was not especially strong.
Furthermore, France’s unemployment rate was already on a slow downward path at the time Macron took office. The unemployment rate had fallen 1.1 percentage points in the prior two years.
In short, it is very hard to look at the data and conclude that Macron’s policies had any major effect in reducing unemployment.