French unemployment still above eurozone average

France's unemployment rate has hardly fallen since 2009. [ricochet64/ Shutterstock]

Unemployment in the eurozone has reached its lowest point since May 2009, according to new Eurostat figures. But despite a slight improvement in 2016, France’s performance remains below average. EURACTIV France reports.

Of the 28 EU member states, just two, Denmark and Lithuania, saw an increase in unemployment in the year from February 2016. While the rest of the EU enjoyed rising employment, big differences persisted between national statistics.

The Czech Republic and Germany lead the figures published by Eurostat yesterday (3 April), with 3.4% and 3.9% unemployment rates, respectively.  Meanwhile, Spain (18%) and Greece (23.1%) continue to languish at the bottom of the EU ranking.

With an average of 9.5%, the eurozone has reached its lowest rate of unemployment since May 2009, after the onset of the economic crisis. France has seen the most modest drop over the period (0.2%) and has yet to bring its unemployment rate below 10%.

Unemployment statistics from Eurostat, February 2017.

Trust in the EU

A 2016 Eurobarometer survey found that 83% of French citizens want the EU to take more decisive action against unemployment in the member states.

“Youth unemployment remains unacceptably high, while the increase in insecure jobs is leading more and more people to doubt the founding pledge of more prosperity through economic cooperation,” said Thomas Händel, a German far left MEP (GUE/NGL) and chair of the European Parliament’s employment committee.

Last July, MEPs adopted a resolution to update the EU’s long-term budget to better tackle youth unemployment. On 27 March, a further €1.2 billion was allocated to the Youth Employment Initiative for 2017-2020.

The European Commission also hopes its Europe 2020 strategy will lift 20 million people out of poverty by improving youth mobility, education and social inclusion.

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