French unemployment falls to five-year low

AFP , Thursday 17 Aug 2017

french unemployment
FILE PHOTO: Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis (L) and European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier hold a joint news conference after the round of Brexit talks in Brussels, Belgium July 20, 2017. ( photo : Reuters )

France's unemployment rate fell again to a five-year low in the second quarter, official figures showed on Wednesday, providing cheer for new President Emmanuel Macron who faces low popularity ratings just three months into his term.

The unemployment rate in the April-June quarter fell by 0.1 points to 9.5 percent, preliminary figures from statistics agency INSEE showed, taking it to a level last seen in early 2012 before the election of former Socialist president Francois Hollande.

The data underline how the French and broader European economy appear to be on an upswing just as Macron begins his presidency with plans to lower taxes and implement a raft of business-friendly policies.

He has made tackling France's high unemployment rate, almost double the level of Germany or Britain's, one of his priorities.

INSEE said there were 2.81 million people out of work in total in France, down 20,000 compared with the previous quarter and 140,000 over a year.

The figure was lower than the number of people registered for unemployment benefits, however.

The Pole Emploi agency, which manages jobseekers' allowances, said there were 3.48 million people registered in the second quarter in mainland France, down by 24,900 people or 0.7 percent.

Other figures show that hiring also appears to be rising in the private sector.

Macron, the country's youngest president at just 39, has had a mixed start since his election in May which has seen him take a leading role on the international stage while facing criticism at home.

Only 37 percent of French voters are happy with his performance in his first three months in power, a new survey showed on Wednesday.

He will face the first strikes against his economic reform agenda in September when he is hoping to push through radical labour law changes that are highly contested by trade unions.

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