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Unemployment rate continues to decline, especially among women

The outgoing government has basically reached its employment target, but voters seem unimpressed.

Mies tekee kivityötä.
More than 2.5 million people had jobs in Finland last month. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Finland's unemployment rate has been trending downward throughout the current government's term. It has been on the decline ever since early 2015, just before the current legislative term began.

Statistics Finland announced on Tuesday that the unemployment rate dipped to 7.4 percent in February, down from last year's 8.6 percent.

Thus February's jobless rate was 1.2 percentage points lower than a year before. The biggest improvement was for female workers, whose unemployment rate fell by nearly two percentage points to 6.7 percent. Among men, the rate dipped by just 6-tenths of a percentage point to 8.1 percent.

Over 2.5 million at work

The unemployment rate for young people (age 15-24) dropped by 1.5 percentage points to 19.7 percent. However less than 10 percent of the age group were actually looking for work as many were studying or doing military service, for instance.

Altogether last month there were some 200,000 jobseekers in Finland, 33,000 fewer than a year earlier. Meanwhile the number of employed people rose by slightly more. About 34,000 more people were at work, bringing the total of just over 2.5 million in a nation of 5.52 million.

Employment improves, government support dwindles

Meanwhile the unemployment trend reached its lowest level in more than a decade. The increase pushed the seasonally adjusted trend of the employment rate to 72.5 percent, exceeding the outgoing centre-right government's target of 72 percent.

The three-party coalition's success in surpassing this target does not seem to have won over voters, as the two main parties have continued to lose support in recent months, their popularity falling further behind the opposition Social Democrats ahead of next month's parliamentary elections.

The most recent Yle poll shows the SDP with 21.3 percent, followed by the conservative National Coalition Party at 16.2 percent and Prime Minister Juha Sipilä's Centre at 14.1 percent. The third cabinet party, the Blue Reform, had less than two percent support.

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