December 21, 2018 / 10:35 AM / 2 months ago

Finland reaches goal of 72 percent employment: statistics office

FILE PHOTO: Stockmann's flagship department store is seen in Helsinki, Finland November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jussi Rosendahl/File Photo

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland’s seasonally adjusted employment rate rose to 72 percent in November, its statistics office said on Friday, reaching a goal set by the governing center-right coalition when it took office in 2015.

“Fine news for Christmas. The government’s employment goal of 72 percent has now been achieved,” Prime Minister Juha Sipila said on his Twitter account, four months ahead of parliamentary elections due in April.

The seasonally adjusted jobless rate stood at 7.1 percent in November, down from 8.2 percent a year ago, Statistics Finland said.

The employment rate excludes some working-age people including students as well as parents who remain at home to care for children.

Increasing the employment rate is crucial for Finland’s public finances as the population is aging, with fewer people working and paying taxes to help finance care for the elderly.

Finance Minister Petteri Orpo tweeted that the government should now aim for an employment rate over 75 percent.

That might prove difficult, however, as forecasters have recently cut down their GDP growth projections for coming years.

After a decade of stagnation, Finland’s economy has seen an upswing with GDP growth of 2.8 percent in 2017 and 1.6 percent in 2016, though the employment rate still lags Nordic peers.

In June 2015 when Sipila’s government took office, the employment rate stood at 68 percent and the economy was struggling to break out of a three-year recession.

Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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