French unemployment dropped to an 11-year low in the first quarter as people without work were unable to look for jobs due to the lockdown triggered by coronavirus.
The INSEE stats quarterly unemployment survey found that the jobless rate fell to 7.8 per cent from 8.1 per cent in the fourth quarter, reaching its lowest since late 2008.
France’s nationwide lockdown, which started on March 17, 2020, reduced the number of those normally classified as unemployed by making it impossible for them to actively look for a job, INSEE said.
In the period before the lockdown, the unemployment rate was 8.2 per cent.
Lockdown has led to the euro zone’s second-biggest economy into its worst recession since modern economic records began in 1949.
Like other countries, the French government has looked to prevent a wave of permanent lay-offs by reimbursing companies 70 per cent of the gross wages of workers they put on furlough.
There have, so far, been 12.4 million people benefiting from state-subsidised furloughs, nearly two-thirds of the private sector workforce, according to Labour Ministry data.
France eased its lockdown on Monday with the government now eager for companies to bring back workers and reduce how much it reimburses firms using the furlough scheme.
However, some parts of the country, including its capital Paris, remain under tighter controls, with the country split into green and red zones.
More than 26,000 people have died from Covid-19 in France since March 1, 2020, one of the highest tolls in Europe.