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Unemployment in France falls slightly despite the lockdown

Unemployment in France has fallen slightly, despite the ongoing ravages of the health crisis and consequent lockdown, latest statistics show.

Unemployment in France falls slightly despite the lockdown
Photo: Stephane du Sakatin/AFP

The number of unemployed job seekers in mainland France fell by 0.4 percent in the first three months of 2021, according to figures published by the French Ministry of Labour on Tuesday.

There were 3,560,600 unemployed registered at the Pôle Emploi (unemployment office), 12,200 fewer than during the last three months of 2020.

This follows a 2.7 percent fall in the final three months of 2020 – but the rate is still up 6.8 percent compared with the first three months of 2020, before Europe began to feel the economic impact of the Covid pandemic.

Currently all ‘non essential’ shops in France have been closed since April 3rd, while bars, restaurants, cafés, gyms, cinemas, theatres, museums and tourist sites have been closed since October 2020.

Despite the fall the total number of job seekers, the number of people who were in work but with reduced hours was up by 0.8 percent at the start of 2021, to 2,156,300.

That means that in total 5,716,900 people in mainland France were registered with Pôle emploi during this period, an increase of 4.9 percent compared with a year ago.

“Over the course of 2020, in one year, unemployment rose by 8 percent. This is obviously a lot, but we must remember that during the crisis of 2008-2009, unemployment leapt by 25 percent, so we can see that the government assistance is working,” Minister of Labour Élisabeth Borne told BFMTV on Tuesday.

The French government has put together a huge package of economic aid to try and mitigate the effects of the repeated lockdowns, from chômage partiel (furlough) schemes for employees to aid packages for business owners and the self-employed. But many small retailers have been hit hard by the three periods of closure for non-essential shops, while the tourist, leisure and hospitality sectors have also had a devastating year.

The economic downturn linked to the pandemic has disproportionately affected young people in France.  Across all categories of job seekers (unemployed and with reduced hours), the latest figures show a rise of 7.1 percent in a year for those under 25, compared to 4.5 percent for the 25-29 age range, and 4.8 percent for those aged 50 and over.

Men are also more likely to have signed up to Pôle emploi, with a 6.1 percent increase on last year, compared to a 3.8 percent increase among women.

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BUSINESS

Spotify posts net loss of 430 million euros – but beats expectations

Swedish music streaming giant Spotify reports deepening losses, but for the first time climbed past 200 million paying subscribers.

Spotify posts net loss of 430 million euros – but beats expectations

The Swedish company, which last week announced it was cutting almost six percent of its workforce to reduce costs, posted a net loss of 430 million euros ($465 million) for the year.

Analysts had forecast a loss of 441 million euros, according to Factset.

Revenue for the full-year also slightly beat forecasts, coming in at 11.7 billion euros or a rise of 21 percent from a year earlier.

The number of paying subscribers climbed by 14 percent to 205 million, beating analysts’ expectations of 202 million, which the group attributed to strong growth in all regions, especially in Latin America.

It is the first time Spotify has surpassed 200 million paying subscribers.

Among other things, the company said it had benefited from promotional campaigns, a strong holiday season, and robust growth among Gen Z users.

The total number of monthly users, including subscribers using the free version, totalled 489 million at the end of the year and should hit the 500 million mark in 2023, Spotify said.

The platform, based in Stockholm but listed in New York, has only occasionally posted a quarterly profit since its launch.

It has regularly posted annual losses, despite strong subscriber growth and having had a headstart on its rivals such as Apple Music and Amazon Music.

Spotify founder and chief executive Daniel Ek last week announced the group was cutting around 600 jobs, out of around 10,000, following other similar moves by tech industry giants.

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