French jobless rate eases to 9.1 percent

The French unemployment rate fell slightly by 0.1 percentage points to 9.1 percent in the second quarter of 2011 from the level in the first quarter, official data showed on Thursday.

However, the latest data on the number of people seeking work is at a high level.

The quarterly rate fell by 0.2 percentage points on a 12-month comparison, and 2.58 million people were unemployed, the data showed on the basis of International Labour Organisation methods of calculation.  

The national statistics office INSEE, which published the figures of registered unemployed people, estimated that 3.3 million people who have no job would like to work.  

Before the financial crisis, the French unemployment rate had fallen to the lowest level for 25 years to 7.2 percent in the first half of that year, but after the crisis it surged to a high point of 9.6 percent in the last quarter of 2009.  

Labour Minister Xavier Bertrand hopes that the rate will fall to below 9.0 percent by the end of the year.  

But the latest data on the number of people seeking work show a sharp rise for three months in a row to the highest level for 11 years at the end of July when 2.756 million people were registered as unemployed.

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Unemployment in France falls slightly despite the lockdown

Unemployment in France has fallen slightly, despite the ongoing ravages of the health crisis and consequent lockdown, latest statistics show.

Unemployment in France falls slightly despite the lockdown
Photo: Stephane du Sakatin/AFP

The number of unemployed job seekers in mainland France fell by 0.4 percent in the first three months of 2021, according to figures published by the French Ministry of Labour on Tuesday.

There were 3,560,600 unemployed registered at the Pôle Emploi (unemployment office), 12,200 fewer than during the last three months of 2020.

This follows a 2.7 percent fall in the final three months of 2020 – but the rate is still up 6.8 percent compared with the first three months of 2020, before Europe began to feel the economic impact of the Covid pandemic.

Currently all ‘non essential’ shops in France have been closed since April 3rd, while bars, restaurants, cafés, gyms, cinemas, theatres, museums and tourist sites have been closed since October 2020.

Despite the fall the total number of job seekers, the number of people who were in work but with reduced hours was up by 0.8 percent at the start of 2021, to 2,156,300.

That means that in total 5,716,900 people in mainland France were registered with Pôle emploi during this period, an increase of 4.9 percent compared with a year ago.

“Over the course of 2020, in one year, unemployment rose by 8 percent. This is obviously a lot, but we must remember that during the crisis of 2008-2009, unemployment leapt by 25 percent, so we can see that the government assistance is working,” Minister of Labour Élisabeth Borne told BFMTV on Tuesday.

The French government has put together a huge package of economic aid to try and mitigate the effects of the repeated lockdowns, from chômage partiel (furlough) schemes for employees to aid packages for business owners and the self-employed. But many small retailers have been hit hard by the three periods of closure for non-essential shops, while the tourist, leisure and hospitality sectors have also had a devastating year.

The economic downturn linked to the pandemic has disproportionately affected young people in France.  Across all categories of job seekers (unemployed and with reduced hours), the latest figures show a rise of 7.1 percent in a year for those under 25, compared to 4.5 percent for the 25-29 age range, and 4.8 percent for those aged 50 and over.

Men are also more likely to have signed up to Pôle emploi, with a 6.1 percent increase on last year, compared to a 3.8 percent increase among women.