Friday, August 18, 2006

That's Supposed to be Impressive?

French statistics bureau Insee reports that French employment rose 0.3% during the second quarter compared to the first, or 0.7% compared to the second quarter of 2005. The 0.3% quarterly increase was, as Bloomberg news points out, the fastest increase since 2001.

So, when France , like the rest of continental Europe and Scandinavia, have entered a cyclical upswing, they still only manage a 0.3% quarterly increase and 0.7% yearly increase. Even if the quartely increase of the second quarter could be sustained for a whole year that would only imply a 1.2% yearly employment increase. That is anything but impressive.

Compare this to employment numbers for the period May to July 2006 from the world's freest economy, Hong Kong. During the latest year, unemployment have dipped from 5.7% to 4.9% and underemployment from 2.8% to 2.6%, despite an increase in the labor force of 1.5% (mainly driven by immigration from mainland China). This implies a 2.3% employment growth and 2.5% increase in the number of full-time jobs. This is despite having a lot tighter labor market than France to begin with.


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