May Unemployment Numbers Reveal First Lull in Two Years

Meeting in Nantes Photo: http://commons.wikimedia.org/selbymay

Meeting in Nantes
Photo: commons.wikimedia.org/selbymay

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Labor published the official 2013 unemployment figures. For the first time in two years, the unemployment numbers have stabilized. While this is good news—particularly after two years of rising numbers—the Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault continues to maintain a cautionary stance.

Having just arrived in Guadeloupe on an official visit, Ayrault went on to comment, “we are still far from the goal.” He added, “It’s a lull but one that should lead us to mobilize further.” There are 3.26 million people, including the overseas territories, currently registered for unemployment.

Despite the recent growth with 137,000 workers added to the force in 2013, the lull does reveal a need for further growth, as French unemployment rates reached 10.7% last quarter—eerily close to the records set in 1994 and 1997.  Elysée has not announced any new measures to stimulate job growth other than an emergency plan to be unveiled in the next few months. The stimulus package is said to total 150 million euros and hopes to add 30,000 new jobs.

President François Hollande and Prime Minister Ayrault seized the opportunity during a large conference on employment to urge different actors (companies, associations, and local authorities) to do their part in the fight against unemployment and help jump-start contracts and jobs for new generations. They had around 33,000 jobs pledged by the end of the month. During the opening of the second conference last week, Hollande declared, “Unemployment, which has been rising for 5 years, will continue, unfortunately, to rise until the end of the year.” However, “encouraging signs” and “signs of economic recovery in France and in Europe” are proof that “we can achieve” a trend reversal.

The plateaued numbers are one of the “encouraging signs” mentioned by Hollande. However, as French officials, have been sure to emphasize, it is only one step in the process. It is by no means a sign of total victory, but only a signpost along the road. Elysée is hopeful that this trend reversal will continue and that “signs” turn into results.

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  1. […] of Labor published the official May 2013 unemployment figures. For the first time in two years, the unemployment numbers have stabilized. While this is good news—particularly after two years of rising numbers—Prime Minister […]

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