As President Hollande struggles to implement labour market reforms, unemployment in mainland France has edged under 10 percent for the first time since 2014. But, as David Pollard reports, the long-term jobless rate has climbed back towards record levels.
Unemployment may be easing in France but anger over labour reform certainly isn't. The police increasingly the target as weeks of protest spills over into violence. But at least some of the latest jobless numbers look better for President Francois Hollande. He's staked his future on curing France's labour market ills. That making him unpopular with unions, certainly - but not investors. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, CCLA INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, JAMES BEVAN, SAYING: "I absolutely anticipate that the French need material reform of the labour market and, indeed, most of the other structural constraints that stop French business being able to deliver. I look at the quality of French management and I am, of course, vastly impressed. I look at the quality of their corporate delivery and I have to say I am vastly disappointed. We need the reform to close that gap." France's mainland jobless rate has now edged below below 10 per cent. That for the first time since mid 2014. But in a cruel twist to the statistics, the number of people out of work for a year or more has climbed. It's now just shy of its record high. Reform necessary, perhaps - but still not quite taking shape so far. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CITI EUROPEAN ECONOMIST, CHRISTIAN SCHULZ, SAYING: "It's a modest step in the right direction. The timing is actually quite good in many ways, but it's certainly not enough to drag France out of its mire and become a star performer in the euro zone again." Hollande has said he won't stand for reelection next year unless there's a sustained fall in unemployment this year. Right now, that looks like a gamble he still might lose.