Recent Drop in French Unemployment Rate Should Not Be Overestimated - Analysts

© REUTERS / Philippe WojazerFrench President Emmanuel Macron walks back to his office after a meeting with guests at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, August 31, 2017
French President Emmanuel Macron walks back to his office after a meeting with guests at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, August 31, 2017 - Sputnik International
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The decrease in the unemployment rate in France, evident by the latest statistics published by the Labor Ministry earlier this week, is not necessarily representative of a new positive trend, experts told Sputnik, adding that it might take at least two years to see the results of the latest labor reform.

PARIS (Sputnik) — According to the statistics released on Tuesday, the number of the unemployed in Metropolitan France lowered by 1.8 percent, or 64,800 people, in September to 3.47 million, the largest monthly decrease in several years, however, it is too early to assess the progress.

"It can be due to a technical problem, that can explain a sudden increase or drop in the unemployment figures, it already happened before. I think we should look rather into that, than any tendency … There is a slight tendency for an [unemployment] drop during past 1-2 years, but with ups and downs. So it’s not a curve showing clear descent," Eddy Fougier, a researcher at the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (IRIS), said.

Fougier added that the unemployment rate curve had been showing "rather the general tendency for the decrease, but a very slight one where divergences are not impossible."

READ MORE: Poll Finds That Half of France Thinks Macron's Economic Policies Favor the Rich

Daniel Boy, a senior researcher at the Sciences Po research center (CEVIPOF), said there was "a strong unpredictability with the unemployment curve."

"I think we need to be very careful with these figures, they can increase next month and it’s not guaranteed we’ll have the same result," Boy said.

Boy added that it was too early to tell whether the latest labor law changes adopted by the new government had already brought any results.

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According to Boy, the very nature of the reforms, which, in particular, allowed employers more freedom in hiring and firing workers, might make it difficult to see the desired result immediately.

"If in the beginning laying people off is made easier, it can just make laying them off easier, rather than give the anticipated flexibility to the labor market. So I think it takes minimum two years to see the effect," Boy said.

Labor Minister Muriel Penicaud told LCI broadcaster on Wednesday that she did not trust monthly surveys since they could be inexact, but noted that there were encouraging signs in terms of lower unemployment rate. Penicaud suggested that the goal of the 7-percent unemployment rate at the end of President Emmanuel Macron's five-year term was "reasonable."

READ MORE: France's Largest Workers Union Marching in Paris Against Macron's Reform

According to the EU statistics agency, the unemployment rate in France in the second quarter of this year amounted to 9.6 percent. In comparison, Germany had a 3.8-percent unemployment rate, while in the United Kingdom it stood at 4.4 percent. The French unemployment rate was surpassed only by Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and Spain.

At the same time, the French unemployment rate dropped below 10 percent in the first quarter of 2017 for the first time since the third quarter of 2012.

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