Decline in French jobless rate a shot in arm for Jospin
At the very least, it seems, the country's booming exports and the beginnings of a recovery in domestic demand may have checked the rise of joblessness, which has been almost unbroken for the past three years. Even the government is reluctant to forecast a substantial erosion of the number of people looking for work - now 3,100,000, or 3,500,000 by the former method of calculation - before the middle of next year.
The July figures, especially a sharp drop in youth unemployment, will be welcome news to the Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, nonetheless. He told a conference of French ambassadors yesterday that the French budget deficit this year would be close enough to the 3 per cent of GNP guideline to state "with confidence" that the European single currency would start on time.
The forecast depends on a continuing increase in the rate of growth in France, which is expected to touch 3 per cent next year. The fall in the value of the franc, the accelerating boom in exports and continuing low inflation have brightened, if not yet transformed, French economic prospects since Mr Jospin came to power in June.
He is, so far, a lucky Prime Minister. He campaigned on a programme to rekindle growth but growth has rekindled itself, rescuing him from some of the contradictions in his programme. French employers are warning, however, that some aspects of Jospin policy - especially the plan to legislate for a 35-hour maximum working week - could stop growth dead in its tracks.
Employers, unions and the government are to meet next month to discuss this and other suggested ways of reducing unemployment more rapidly. Le Monde reported earlier this week that draft plans existed to postpone the 35-hour week until 2000 but impose extra taxes on anyone who worked more than the existing maximum of 39 hours. The government has denied the existence of such plans.
In his speech to ambassadors yesterday, Mr Jospin gave one of his most cordial endorsements of economic and monetary union (EMU) to date. He said the single currency would help Europe to "regain its monetary sovereignty" and "re-balance the relative strengths of the great power blocks".
His earlier demands for an increase in the powers of economic management of the EU at political level remained. But this could be achieved without damaging the independence of the European central bank.
The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift
- 1 Salisbury ranked seventh-best city in the world to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015
- 2 Disney announces new female-led film Moana
- 3 Banksy has not been arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 5 Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Chicago voter tells Obama 'don't touch my girlfriend' – Obama stays super smooth
Oscar Pistorius: The brutal prison life that awaits disgraced athlete
Banksy has not been arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
Ebola outbreak: Nowhere is safe until virus is contained in Africa, claims the top doctor who beat it in Nigera
Raphael Ravenscroft dead: 'Baker Street' musician who played the most famous saxophone solo for just £27, dies aged 60
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Jose Manuel Barroso warns David Cameron against making 'historic mistake' over immigration reforms
Worst Airports of 2014: Poll names Islamabad airport in Pakistan worst in the world
iJobs Money & Business
£23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...
£27000 per annum + pension, 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ind...
£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...
£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Admini...