Good news: France has just created more jobs than at any time since 2007

Job creation by French companies hit its highest level last year since the global financial crisis, data showed Thursday, underlining the brightening prospects for the eurozone's second-biggest economy six weeks from elections

Good news: France has just created more jobs than at any time since 2007
Photo: AFP

Job creation by French companies hit its highest level last year since the global financial crisis, data showed Thursday, underlining the brightening prospects for the eurozone's second-biggest economy six weeks from elections.

Figures from statistics office Insee suggest the next French president, set to take office after a two-stage election in April and May, will inherit an economy showing modest signs of recovery.

A total of 187,200 jobs were created in the non-farm private sector in 2016, the highest annual figure since 2007 before the global financial crisis slammed the world economy.

The most dynamic quarter of the year was the September-December period when 64,400 jobs were created.

Philippe Waechter, chief economist at Natixis, a French investment bank, said the rise was “in line with improving sentiment among business leaders who are anticipating an increase in activity.”

The French central bank raised its growth forecasts for this year on Thursday, saying it now expected the economy to expand by 1.3 percent from 1.1 percent in 2016.

This remains below the Socialist government's forecast of 1.5 percent, but is in line with many private forecasters and the OECD who have also been adjusting their outlook for France upwards.

Economy top priority

The uptick in job creation comes too late for Socialist President Francois Hollande who decided in December not to stand for re-election after having failed to lower the unemployment rate of around 10 percent over his five-year term.

He staked his future on tax incentives for new positions and pro-market economic reforms, such as changes to France's rigid labour code, which he hoped would generate fresh employment.

“It's surprising that with growth so low we have managed to create so many jobs,” economist Mathieu Plane from the OFCE economic think tank at Sciences Po university in Paris observed.

French growth still lags the eurozone's as a whole, which is forecast by the European Central Bank to expand by 1.8 percent in 2017. Unemployment remains double the rate of that of Germany or Britain.

Polls show that jobs are the main concern for French voters, far more than immigration or security despite a string of attacks on France since 2015.

Independent centrist Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year-old former economy minister responsible for one of Hollande's main pro-market reforms, is currently the favourite to be the next president.

He faces competition from far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who is promising protectionism and to withdraw France from the European Union — a message popular with workers affected by factory closures.

Analysts urge caution about making firm forecasts, however, after an unpredictable campaign which has seen former rightwing frontrunner Francois Fillon ensnared in a fake job scandal involving his wife.

Jerome Fourquet, head of research at polling group Ifop, says the economy overtook security as voters' main concern at the end of last year.

“It's the economy and social questions which are again the priority for French people,” he told AFP, before adding a warning: another attack would make security the top concern “in an instant”.

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How to get a summer job in France

As the summer holidays approach in France, many employers are looking for seasonal workers - so if you're looking for a summer job, here's how to go about it.

How to get a summer job in France

There are thousands of employment offers in France – a simple internet search for jobs d’été came up with numerous jobs boards offering work in France, while the government-backed Centre d’Information et de Documentation pour la Jeunesse (CIDJ) offers advice and information on all aspects of life for young people in France, including finding seasonal work and summer placements.

Sectors including agriculture, hospitality and tourism are always recruiting in the summer, seeking fruit-pickers, holiday camp workers and serving/hotel staff.

But what are the rules for people seeking summer jobs?

READ ALSO Vendange: What you really sign up for when you agree to help with the French wine harvest


Children from the age of 16 (under certain circumstances, the age limit drops to 14) who are legally resident in France can work as long as they have written authorisation from their parents or legal guardians. A model authorisation letter is available here

Those under the age of 18 cannot undertake certain jobs for health and safety reasons.

In the following circumstances, children as young as 14 or 15 can work during school holidays.

  • The holidays must last at least 14 days;
  • The child must work no more than half the days of the holiday – so, if a vacation period is two weeks, they can work for no more than one of those weeks;
  • The child is given ‘light duties’ that offer no risk to their safety, health, or development;
  • From the age of 15 and if the child has completed their troisieme education, a minor can register for an apprenticeship. 


Salary is usually paid monthly and will have a payslip. For those aged 18 and over, pay will be at least equal to the minimum wage.

 For those aged 14 to 17, who have less than six months’ professional experience, the minimum allowed rate is 80 percent of the minimum wage. For those aged 17 to 18, the rate rises to a minimum of 90 percent of France’s minimum wage.

  • The minimum wage in France is currently €10.85 gross per hour (€1,645.58 gross per month based on a 35-hour week);
  • the employment contract is fixed-term and can take different forms (fixed-term contract, seasonal employment contract, temporary employment contract, etc);
  • Seasonal employees are subject to the same obligations as the other employees of the company and have access to the same benefits (canteens, breaks, etc.).

Under 18s have certain additional protections:

  • between the ages of 14 and 16, during school holidays, employees on any contract cannot work more than 35 hours per week nor more than 7 hours per day;
  • They cannot work at night;
  • Those aged 14 to under 16 working during their school holidays can only be assigned to work which is not likely to harm their safety, their health or development.

Right to work in France

If you’re a French citizen or hold permanent residency in France then you have the right to work, but for foreigners there are extra restrictions.

Anyone who holds the passport of a EU/EEA country or Switzerland, is free to work in France or to travel to France seeking work without needing a visa or work permit.

Most other people will need permission to work in France – even if it’s only for a short period or for casual work such as grape-picking. Depending on your country of origin you may need a visa – everything you need to know about that is here.

In addition to the visa, you may also need a work permit, which is the responsibility of the employer.  To employ anyone in France for less than 90 days, an employer must get a temporary work permit – before the prospective employee applies for a short stay visa. This permit is then sent to the embassy at which the employee is applying for a visa.

If you come from countries including the UK, USA and Canada you can spend up to 90 days in France without a visa – but you may still need a work (convention d’accueil) if you want to work while you are here.

READ ALSO Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in France

Certain countries have specific ‘seasonal worker’ visas on offer, for certain sectors which allows – for example – Canadians to come to France and work the ski season. 

Cash-in-hand jobs

Certain sectors which have a lot of casual workers – for example seasonal fruit-picking – do have cash-in-hand jobs, known in France as marché noir (black market) or simply travail au black (working on the black, or working illegally). 

This is of course illegal and working this way carries risks – as well as the possibility of losing your job if labour inspectors turn up you are also in a vulnerable position. If your employer suddenly decides not to pay you, or make unexpected deductions from your wages, there is very little you can do about it since you won’t have any kind of work contract.