French unemployment falls again to 8.6 percent

31st January 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 30, 2007 (AFP) - French unemployment, one of the key issues in upcoming presidential elections, was down 1.0 percentage point in December to 8.6 percent, from 9.6 percent a year before, the labour ministry said Tuesday.


PARIS, Jan 30, 2007 (AFP) - French unemployment, one of the key issues in upcoming presidential elections, was down 1.0 percentage point in December to 8.6 percent, from 9.6 percent a year before, the labour ministry said Tuesday.

The number of people registered as unemployed fell to 2.092 million, it said.

The drop was in line with an almost steady decline in the jobless numbers that began in March 2005, with 382,000 less people out of work over that period.

A heated debate is currently under way in France over the way the government calculates the number of unemployed people, with some critics saying the numbers are massaged for the political benefit of the current administration.     But Labour Minister Jean-Louis Borloo insisted Tuesday that the latest figures had been drawn up using "the same rule, the same thermometer and the same methodology" as in the past. 

The labour ministry says it calculates the unemployment rate using the norms of the International Labour Organisation.

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said earlier Tuesday that French unemployment would fall to "around 8 percent" in the coming months.

The government has set a goal of bringing down the unemployment rate to that level by July.

Unemployment is set to play a key role during campaigning for presidential elections in France next year, with the current centre-right government likely to stress its achievements in this area.

French voters go to the polls in April and May, with presidential hopefuls Socialist Segolene Royal and centre-right favourite Nicolas Sarkozy running neck-and-neck in opinion surveys.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news. Unemployment

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