France posts record drop in jobless total in September

France’s jobless total fell last month by the most on record, Labour Ministry data showed on Tuesday, giving a boost to President Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to turn the job market around.

The number of people registered as out of work in mainland France fell by 64,800 in September, the biggest decrease in figures going back to the start of 1996.

The drop, 1.8 percent over one month and 0.5 percent over one year, brought the jobless total to 3,475,600, the lowest level since April.

The improvement lends support to claims from Macron’s government that their reform efforts are already beginning to deliver more jobs and growth.

Macron is counting on bringing down France’s unemployment, stuck close to 10 percent for years, with an overhaul of labour market rules last month, which is to be followed with a reform of jobless benefits and professional training in the coming months.

French business confidence has surged since Macron’s election in May on a pro-business reform agenda as companies shifted activity up a gear to cope with stronger demand, surveys showed earlier on Tuesday.

With new business flooding in, companies increased headcount in October at the fastest pace in over a decade to cope with growing backlogs, a closely watched monthly purchasing managers survey showed.

Meanwhile, industrial companies report that their capacity is running at the highest levels since before the outbreak of the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, a separate quarterly survey from the INSEE statistics agency showed on Tuesday.

A growing number of companies reported trouble keeping up with demand. Some 32 percent of managers polled said they were facing production bottlenecks.

However, that should be a good sign for the job market as firms will have to take on more workers to meet client demand, potentially further decreasing the number of unemployed.

INSEE has yet to estimate the unemployment rate for the third quarter, but reported in August it fell in the second quarter to a five-year low of 9.5 percent from 9.6 percent in the previous three months.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Leigh Thomas; editing by Michel Rose)

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