The job market

Work opportunities in France

The job market

Like in many European countries, the majority of the workforce in France is now employed in the services sector (about 80%, 2012, est). Of the remainder, around 18% are employed in industry and 2% in agriculture.

Almost one in every ten people in France is an immigrant (8,8% in 2014, and this percentage increases every year), and there are many EU and non-EU immigrants working in France. Unemployment in general is running between 9 and 11% in France. Raised taxes that have to be paid by companies has resulted in structural unemployment, a slowdown in productivity gains and the increase of the minimum wages.

France has a generous system of social security which is supported by high taxation. In addition, there are mandated holidays and minimum wage constraints. In many enterprises, in particular public and ex-public sector organisations, there is an adversarial employer/employee relationship which can make change difficult, especially when workforce numbers are reduced.

Union membership and working hours

Although France union membership rates are much lower than in the past, strikes hitting public sector and transport are still a common occurrence. This regime is blamed by many for the lack of job-creation and for producing a rigid labour market.

In 2000, the 35-hour week was introduced (The so-called Aubry II Law, previously it was 39) to increase the total number of jobs. This was mandatory in some sectors and types of companies. However, now it seems that the 35-hour work week is a law without teeth and the current administration is relaxing rules and dismantling parts of the legislation. Read more about the 35-hour work week in our working section.

Further reading

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