French economy grew 1.1% in 2015, fastest in four years

Friday 29 January 2016 07.35
French consumer spending increased by 1.4% in 2015, while business investment grew 2% year-on-year
French consumer spending increased by 1.4% in 2015, while business investment grew 2% year-on-year

France's economy grew 1.1% in 2015, its biggest jump in four years which the government hailed as confirmation of a turnaround after years of economic stagnation, official statistics showed today. 

The euro zone's second-biggest economy posted growth of 0.2% in the fourth quarter, down from 0.3% in the July-September period, national statistics agency INSEE said. 

The full-year growth figure, up from 0.2% in 2014, was in line with the government's predictions but lagged the 1.5% growth expected in the wider euro zone in 2015, according to INSEE. 

Finance Minister Michel Sapin said the fact that output had continued expanding in the fourth quarter, despite devastating terrorist attacks that left 130 people dead in November and dealt a severe blow to tourism, showed "the French did not give up". 

"2015 was the year of the recovery," Sapin told AFP, predicting that the trend would "intensify in 2016" and spur job creation.

In a sign of increased consumer confidence, consumer spending shot up 1.4% in 2015, while business investment grew 2% year-on-year.

The figures provide some rare good news for the government after further disappointment on the jobs front this week. 

On Wednesday, the labour ministry announced that unemployment - the scourge of President Francois Hollande's administration - had risen again in December, taking the number of jobless to a new record of 3.59 million.