French jobless rate falls for first time since 2011

Finally some positive news on the unemployment front for France. Figures released this week showed the number of jobseekers had fallen for the first time in over two years. However it was still too early to celebrate, said the minister for labour.

French jobless rate falls for first time since 2011
Jobseekers que at one of France's Pôle Emploi (job centres) Photo: Jacques Demarthon/AFP

The number of registered job seekers in France fell in August for the first time in more than two years, dropping by 50,000 to 3.23 million, the labour ministry announced Wednesday.

But Labour Minister Michel Sapin said a lasting turnaround in unemployment promised by the Socialist government and President Francois Hollande had not yet been achieved.

“The results of one month do not represent a turnaround,” Sapin said in a statement. Hollande had promised a “lasting inversion of the unemployment curve” by the end of the year.

But Sapin welcomed what he termed a “significant” drop in a country where unemployment affects nearly 10.9 percent of the active population.

The fall in registered job seekers was the first since May 2011.

Also on Wednesday France vowed “unprecedented” cuts in public spending to rein in its deficit without compromising much-needed growth, as it unveiled its draft 2014 budget on Wednesday.

But critics on either side of the political spectrum remained sceptical that the cost-cutting would alleviate hardship in the Eurozone's second largest economy, which is grappling with record-high unemployment, limited investment and low consumer spending.

Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici and Budget Minister Bernard Cazeneuve presented the draft budget to the cabinet, outlining €15 billion ($20 billion) worth of cuts.

“We prefer to find savings rather than increasing taxes,” Moscovici and Cazeneuve said in their introduction to the draft budget.

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