PARIS (Reuters) - France's unemployment rate improved slightly in the fourth quarter compared to the previous quarter, with the rate coming in at 8% compared to a two-year high of 9.1% in the third quarter, the INSEE statistics office said on Tuesday.
INSEE said there had been an increase in hiring, but added that the data had also been skewed by France's second national lockdown from Oct. 30 to Nov. 15 to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
INSEE said this lockdown reduced the number of those normally classified as being unemployed, by making it impossible for them to look for work as businesses were closed.
President Emmanuel Macron has a goal of reducing French unemployment to 7% by the end of his five-year term in 2022. He inherited a jobless rate of 9.5% when elected in 2017.
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)