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French unemployment dips 0.1% in July

AFP file photo

France’s unemployment rate fell slightly, by 0.1%, in July the Labour Ministry announced on Wednesday. The number of jobless fell by 1,900, but unemployment remained stubbornly high with more than 3.5 million people out of work.

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France’s Socialist government is pinning its hopes for a real reduction in the unemployment rate on two key reforms.

One set of reforms aims to open up the French economy, traditionally seen as more closed than some of its European neighbours.

The second, known as the Responsibility Pact, is a deal with big business to create jobs in return for tax breaks in the eurozone's second biggest economy.

However, the reduction in payroll charges has met with stiff resistance from trade unions and the left of the ruling party, who say the move is not translating into jobs.

"More reforms needed"

The latest unemployment data release coincided with an annual gathering of France’s main business lobby Medef, which is calling for further labour market reforms from the government.

Medef’s vice-president Geoffroy Roux de Bezieux said he expected the tax breaks to help lower unemployment by 2016, but added that the government needed to provide further evidence of its willingness to help French businesses.

“It will take time for the tax reduction measures to take effect and for entrepreneurs to feel confident about (…) the government’s direction,” he told FRANCE 24.

President François Hollande has pledged not to seek re-election in 2017 if he fails to bring down the unemployment rate.
 

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