Record French jobless claims threaten Hollande’s goal
Reuters in Paris
The number of jobless people in mainland France hit an all-time high in July, squeezing the time left for President Francois Hollande to fulfil a pledge to reverse the trend by the end of the year.
The total number of people registered as out of work rose by 6,300 to 3,285,700 according to data from the labour ministry on Tuesday.
The ministry said the increase, of 0.2 per cent over one month and 10.0 per cent over one year, was down from the trend in past months and that this was a sign labour market conditions were improving.
In a statement, it highlighted that the number of jobless youths fell for the third month in a row - partly due to 50,000 state-subsidised job contracts that have so far been signed under a government programme to cut youth unemployment.
Hollande has promised to get unemployment falling by the end of the year, but French jobless claims have risen steadily every month over the last 27 months as the euro zone’s second-biggest economy has struggled to eke out growth.
He can take some relief in tentative signs that the 2-trillion-euro (HK$20.7-trillion) economy has gained momentum, though doubts remains about whether it can be kept up.
Thanks in part to high spending on energy in cold weather and manufacturers restocking, France emerged from a short, shallow recession in the second quarter with better-than-expected growth of 0.5 per cent, the strongest since Hollande took office in May last year.
Nonetheless, economists are not banking on a quick turnaround, with business investment flagging in the face of the weakest profit margins in over two decades.
A monthly survey of corporate purchasing managers suggested the second-quarter growth spurt may prove short-lived.
The labour ministry data are the most frequently reported jobs indicator in France, though the figures are not prepared according to International Labour Organization (ILO) standards nor expressed as a percentage of job seekers.