Brussels (Brussels Morning) Unemployment in France reached some 9% in the third quarter, the highest level in two years, as the economy struggles under restrictions imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus, Reuters reports.
Meantime, the Paris Public Prosecutor, Rémy Heitz, has noted that investigation into how public officials in charge of France’s response have handled the pandemic are ongoing.
National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) records show that the unemployment rate increased from 7.1% in the second quarter to 9% in the third quarter, the biggest quarterly increase since 1975. INSEE pointed out that the rate was skewed in first two quarters since the lockdown from mid-March to mid-May prevented people from looking for work.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron had committed to lowering the unemployment rate to 7% by the end of his term in 2022, a goal now jeopardised by the sudden jump in the numbers of unemployed. When Macron took office in 2017, the rate stood at some 9.5%.
The lockdown caused the worst post-war recession in France in the first two quarters this year. The economy looked to bounce back in the third quarter only to face a second lockdown imposed at the end of October to counter the second wave of infections sweeping across Europe.
As for the investigation against public officials, Prosecutor Heitz noted that it is being divided into four processes, as inquiries continue into possible cases of manslaughter and endangerment of lives.
The investigation, still in its early stages, will focus on the impact of the pandemic response on the public, public servants, healthcare workers and those who caught COVID-19. The pandemic has claimed some 41,000 lives in France, which, in combination with the restrictions imposed to contain it, resulted in economic decline and significant social disruption.
In parallel with the Paris Public Prosecutor’s investigations, the Court of Justice, which was founded in 1993 and tasked with processing cases of alleged ministerial conduct, is heading a separate inquiry.
Last month, police raided the offices and homes of France’s Minister for Solidarity and Health Olivier Véran, the director of public health Jérôme Salomon and the former Prime Minister Édouard Philippe as part of the Court’s investigation.