LONDON (CNNfn) - French unemployment fell for the ninth straight month in May, reaching 9.8 percent as consumer confidence close to an all-time high and strong economic growth created new jobs in the eurozone's second-largest economy, an official report said Friday.|
The number of people unemployed declined to 2,355,000, the lowest since December 1991, from a revised 2,408,300 in April, the Labor Ministry said.
The trend "maintains the decline of recent months... and is a reflection both of the economic pick-up and the effect of the 35-hour week," Glenn Davies, chief economist at Crédit Lyonnais London, told Reuters. "We could get down to around 9 percent by the end of the year and then head down towards 7-8 percent the following year."
The fall was broadly in line with economists' forecasts, and extended an almost continuous decline in France's traditionally stubborn unemployment since June 1997, when the ruling Socialist coalition inherited a jobless rate of 12.6 percent.
The fall was more good news for Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, who pledged earlier this year to drive unemployment below 10 percent by the end of 2000.
Separately, national statistics office INSEE said producer prices, excluding those in the energy, agriculture and food sectors, rose 0.1 percent in May from the previous month, and were up 2.5 percent compared with May 1999.
--from staff and wire reports