French jobless rate fell in 2nd quarter - GulfToday

French jobless rate fell in 2nd quarter

French jobless rate fell in 2nd quarter

People walk in the financial and business district, west of Paris, France. Reuters

PARIS: France’s unemployment rate fell back during the second quarter to reach its lowest level since the end of 2008 and offer some relief for President Emmanuel Macron in the face of a slowing economy and anti-government protests.

The INSEE national statistics office said the unemployment rate in France, which is the eurozone’s second-biggest economy, fell to 8.5 per cent in the second quarter from 8.7 per cent in the first.

That marked the lowest level since it stood at 7.8 per cent for the fourth quarter of 2008, although it remained above an unemployment rate of around 5 per cent in Germany, the euro zone’s biggest economy.

A steady improvement in the jobs market has given Macron some relief in the face of months of street protests against government policies often criticised for favouring the wealthier members of society.

French Labour Minister Muriel Penicaud said in a statement that the latest figures showed progress in terms of young people taking up apprenticeships and jobs.

“The government’s reforms are starting to bear fruit for our citizens. A lot of jobs are being created, especially in terms of permanent contracts, because companies - especially small firms - are no longer scared to hire,” said Penicaud.

In July, online retail giant Amazon announced 1,800 new jobs in France while luxury fashion company Hermes announced 130 new jobs in June, although by contrast furniture retailer Conforama cut jobs.

OECD economist Stephane Carcillo said France still needed to do more in terms of cutting the unemployment level.

Others said the outlook for France and Germany remained uncertain given their broader economic slowdowns and exposure to the impact of global trade disputes, with Germany’s economy having shrunk in the second quarter.