French unemployment falls to its lowest level
The jobless rate falls to 7.2 percent of the working population in the first quarter of 2008 - the lowest since early 1980s.6 June 2008
PARIS - The French jobless rate fell to 7.2 percent of the working population in the first quarter of 2008, its lowest level since the early 1980s, according to official figures released Thursday.
The unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage points compared to the last quarter of 2007 and 1.2 points over a year, according to the figures from the INSEE statistics institute.
The jobless rate rises to 7.5 percent however if France's overseas departments are taken into account.
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde hailed what she called an "historically low" figure, saying she was confident the government would meet its target of five percent unemployment by 2012.
High unemployment has been a central issue in France for more than a decade but the jobless rate has been falling steadily since 2006, now bringing France close to the European Union average of 7.1 percent.
The upturn in the job market has failed to lift French morale however, with consumers at their gloomiest in 20 years according to surveys amid deepening concerns over the rising cost of living.
Elected last year on a pledge to shake up the French economy, President Nicolas Sarkozy's popularity has collapsed among voters who accuse him of failing to boost their living standards.
[APF / Expatica]