French unemployment down to 8.8 percent

31st October 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 30, 2006 (AFP) - French unemployment fell to 8.8 percent of the workforce in September, President Jacques Chirac said in an interview to be published Tuesday by the daily Le Figaro.

PARIS, Oct 30, 2006 (AFP) - French unemployment fell to 8.8 percent of the workforce in September, President Jacques Chirac said in an interview to be published Tuesday by the daily Le Figaro.

"Unemployment has fallen for the past year and a half. In September there were 30,000 fewer jobless people. That took us below the level of nine percent to 8.8 percent," Chirac said.

"We are headed in the right direction," he added, pointing out that the improvement included key categories such as youth and the long-term unemployed.

Chirac pre-empted official figures due later Monday that were to show a total of 350,000 fewer jobless in a year and a half, and pledged that "we are doing all we can to bring France under the bar of 8.0 percent in 2007."

France suffers from chronic high levels of unemployment that many economists say is the result of rigid labor laws and stiff social charges which discourage employers from taking on more workers.

Chirac said the results now allowed the government to consider ways of raising the buying power of French consumers, and the headline figure came as a relief after bumping slightly higher in August to 9.0 percent.

According to International Labour Organization data, French unemployment was last at 8.8 percent in October 2001.

Labor Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said the lower rate of unemployment was the result of measures such as a New Work Contract created in August 2005 that "addresses the concerns of very small companies".

Borloo said France had entered a "virtuous cycle" that did not depend on demographic effects such as the number of people in the workforce.

"I predicted that we would be below 9.0 percent at the end of the year and at 8.6 percent in 2007, we are a little ahead of schedule," he said.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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