French economy grew 1.1% in 2015, fastest in four years

29th January 2016, Comments 0 comments

France's economy grew by 1.1 percent in 2015, its biggest expansion in four years, which the government hailed as confirmation of a turnaround after years of economic stagnation, official statistics showed Friday.

Finance Minister Michel Sapin said the figures showed 2015 was "the year of recovery" for the eurozone's second-biggest economy.

France posted growth of 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter, down from 0.3 percent in the July-September period, national statistics agency INSEE said.

The full-year growth figure, up from just 0.2 percent in 2014, was in line with the government's predictions.

However, it still lagged behind the 1.5-percent growth rate expected in the wider eurozone for 2015.

Sapin said the fact that output had continued expanding in the fourth quarter, despite the jihadist attacks on Paris in November that left 130 people dead and dealt a severe blow to tourism, showed that "the French did not give up".

"The upturn will intensify in 2016, which will allow us to have more jobs. That is our priority," Sapin told AFP.

Unemployment has been a stubborn problem for President Francois Hollande ever since he came to power in 2012 on a pledge to reduce the jobless total.

That has not happened and the number of people actively looking for work last year rose to a record 3.59 million, according to labour ministry figures published Wednesday.

Although the additional 89,000 people seeking work in 2015 was the lowest rise since 2010, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Thursday: "It's still insufficient, as the unemployment figures show.

"But for the first time since 2011, we are again creating growth."

The Socialist government will also take encouragement from signs of increased consumer confidence, with consumer spending up 1.4 percent in 2015.

Business investment also grew, rising by 2.0 percent year-on-year.


© 2016 AFP

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