Decline in French jobless rate a shot in arm for Jospin

Unemployment fell 0.6 per cent in France in July, the first significant dent in the jobless figures this year. But opinions differed on how seriously to interpret the fall, which brought the overall unemployment rate down to 12.5 per cent.

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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Helpdesk Analyst

£23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...

Senior Helpdesk Analyst / Service Desk Co-ordinator

£27000 per annum + pension, 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ind...

Senior Pensions Administrator

£23000 - £26000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Administrator

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Corporate Actions Administrator / Operations Admini...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London