French unemployment rises to a record 22% as lockdown eases

The numbers of unemployed in France grew in April to a record total of 22.6 percent according to French Labour Ministry data released on Thursday, fallout from the government-enforced lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The number jumped from 843,000 people looking for work in March to a whopping 4,575,500, the highest since the ministry began tallying unemployment numbers in 1996.

The numbers do not reflect those on state-subsidised furloughs during the pandemic—the Labour Ministry indicated that those on furlough are nearly 13 million people.

The data indicates that there was a near-35 percent drop in new employment.

The economy is slated to shrink some 20 percent in the second quarter, according to data released by Insee, France’s national statistics agency, also warning that the French economy could contract a total of eight percent for the year if the country returned to ‘business as usual’ by July.

Lockdown lifting?

France has been under one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe since mid-March; first restrictions were lifted on 11 May, and the country is hoping for additional restrictions to be lifted on Thursday.

Part of the easing of the lockdown concerns the French economy. Prime Minister Edouard is expected to announce that bars, cafes and restaurants in most of France will return to normal, while Paris and other hard-hit regions of France will need to wait until a later date