France to pick up, job­less at high: fore­cast

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS -

France’s econ­omy, the sec­ond­largest in the eu­ro­zone, will perk up slightly in the first half of the year but un­em­ploy­ment is ex­pected to stay at record highs, ac­cord­ing to fore­casts.

In es­ti­mates re­leased l ate Thurs­day, the INSEE na­tional statis­tics of­fice said the econ­omy would grow by 0.4 per­cent in the first quar­ter of the year and by 0.3 per­cent in the sec­ond.

The fore­casts sug­gest there is a good chance the French econ­omy will grow faster over the whole year than the 1.0 per­cent Paris cur­rently es­ti­mates.

“The one- per­cent for 2015, seen by many as un­re­al­is­tic a few months ago, now looks like the min­i­mum,” said Fi­nance Min­is­ter Michel Sapin.

How­ever, the more pos­i­tive growth out­look will be in­suf­fi­cient to drive down stub­bornly high un­em­ploy­ment in France, INSEE pre­dicted.

The job­less rate was fore­cast to hit a 20-year record high of 10.2 per­cent in main­land France.

Econ­o­mists and the gov­ern­ment es­ti­mate that a growth rate of around 1.5 per­cent an­nu­ally is re­quired to push un­em­ploy­ment down.

Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande has pledged not to seek re- elec­tion in 2017 if he does not suc­ceed in re­vers­ing the trend of in­creas­ingly high un­em­ploy­ment.

“Our econ­omy is start­ing up again,” Hol­lande said in a speech about the econ­omy on Fri­day.

“The fig­ures pub­lished this morn­ing con­firm that. But it is start­ing up too slowly. We are talk­ing about a growth rate of more than one per­cent in 2015,” said the pres­i­dent.

“But we should have big­ger am­bi­tions and we need more than one per­cent growth to cre­ate jobs,” he said.

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