France’s economy boasted its highest private sector employment since the financial crisis and saw a healthy jolt to wage growth as the country headed for its much-watched presidential election this year.
According to latest official figures from Insee, 49,400 new non-farm jobs were created in French economy in the first quarter, pushing up the size of the labour force to 16.2m – the highest since the global downturn hit in the third quarter of 2008.
Wage growth also accelerated, expanding by 0.6 per cent in the three months to the end of March, up from the negligible 0.1 per cent at the end of 2016 and the best pace in three years.
The state of the French labour market, where unemployment remains in double digits, emerged as a key economic battle ground in the presidential election won by centrist Emmanuel Macron last week.
Mr Macron has promised to liberalise France’s infamously onerous labour code by making it easier for companies to hire and fire workers. He has also vowed to unleash an investment-led jobs programme and wants to reduce the tax burden on entrepreneurs.
For all the impressive declines in the jobless rate across the eurozone over the last year, at 10 per cent, French unemployment is stuck above the continent’s average of 9.5 per cent.
Chart via Bloomberg