Virus lockdown hits French output, trade, jobs

Agence France-Presse . Paris | Published: 22:41, Aug 07,2020


France saw coronavirus lockdown destroy 1,19,400 full-time private sector jobs in the second quarter of 2020 on top of nearly half a million lost in the first, according to an estimate by the Insee statistics agency on Friday.

Net year-on-year private sector job losses amounted to 480,800 in quarter two, or a decline of 2.5 per cent, returning employment levels to what they were at the end of June 2017, shortly after Emmanuel Macron became president of France.

In the non-agricultural sector — industry, construction and market services — employment levels fell 0.6 per cent in the second quarter after a 2.8-per cent loss in the first.

‘This is the largest half-year decline since the series (of measuring quarterly employment) began’ 50 years ago, Insee said.

As payroll layoffs advanced, however, temporary employment rebounded by more 23 per cent or 1,08,500 jobs in the second quarter after an historic drop of 40.4 per cent in the previous quarter, Insee said.

‘Monthly statistics show that temporary employment began to recover as early as May, and is still rising sharply in June, after sharp declines in March and April. By mid-2020, however, it remains 27.1 per cent (or 2,14,800 jobs) below its level a year earlier.’

Insee noted a recovery trend for France’s manufacturing sector, with output up 14.4 per cent following a boost of 22.2 per cent in May.

For the industrial sector as a whole, growth was 12.7 per cent in June after 19.9 per cent in May.

But compared to February, the last month before the start of France’s strict stay-at-home lockdown to curb coronavirus spread, manufacturing output was down 12.4 per cent and industrial output 11 per cent.

As the after effects of the coronavirus epidemic continue to ripple out, the Customs Department said France’s trade deficit widened sharply in the second quarter of 2020, with exports falling more than imports.

The deficit reached 20.4 billion euros ($24.1 billion) in the second quarter.

Nearly half of the drop in exports was due to the transport sector, with reduced exports of aeronautics and space products, cars and boats, the customs department said.

The energy deficit shrunk, however, thanks to lower oil prices and lower demand.

Previous figures showed France’s economy overall shrank a record 13.8 per cent in the second quarter.

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