French Jobless Rate Rises for First Time in More Than Two Years

By William Horobin Features Dow Jones Newswires

France's unemployment rate rose in the third quarter for the first time in more than two years, statistics showed Thursday, raising concerns that the country's job market is not tracking a broader economic recovery.

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The unemployment rate in the eurozone's second-largest economy rose to 9.7% in the third quarter from 9.5% in the second, national statistics agency Insee said.

Since peaking at 10.5% in the second quarter of 2015, unemployment had been on a steady downward trend.

The figures are a blow to President Emmanuel Macron, who is attempting deep overhauls of France's labor laws to make the job market more flexible. His poll ratings have sunk over the summer and he has faced criticism from labor unions, which say his plans will increase unemployment.

Other economic indicators have flashed green during Mr. Macron's first six months in office. Business confidence is at its highest level in a decade while the economy has recorded strong growth and is expected to continue expanding at a similar pace through to the end of the year. According to Insee's latest forecasts, gross domestic product will expand 1.8% this year after three years of modest growth at around 1%.

Monthly counts of jobseekers, however, have shown volatility and no clear trend of improvement.

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Insee's figures Thursday showed a fall in the unemployment rate among young people but a rise in unemployment in the 25-to-49-year-old bracket and among the over-50s. The unemployment rate for mainland France--excluding overseas territories--rose to 9.4% in the third quarter from 9.2% in the second.

Write to William Horobin at william.horobin@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 16, 2017 02:21 ET (07:21 GMT)