The worst did not happen. After eighteen months of pandemic, experts and politicians feared the aftershocks of the Covid-19 earthquake on the French economy. But the end of the summer period is rather marked by a certain optimism within the government. “The French economy is doing well. We had the first consumption figures for the first fifteen days of August. (…) In restaurants, blue card bills increased by 5% in the week of August 9 to 15 ”, said the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, Monday, August 23, in the program “Les Quatre Vérités” on France 2. At the end of a summer marked by the resurgence of the epidemic, the prevalence of the Delta variant and the introduction of the sanitary pass, this figure caused a strong reaction on social networks and among restaurant owners opposed to the famous QR code.
In fact, they come from the analysis of bank card tickets of French residents, compared to the same period of the year 2019. “Even if it’s a good sign, it would have been more relevant to take the year 2020 as a comparison, remarks Mathieu Plane, from the French Observatory of Economic Conjunctures. Indeed, compared to 2019, before the crisis, consumption habits may have changed. In addition, there are many more contactless payments, and holidaymakers have favored France as a summer destination, which was less the case two years ago. ” Finally, these figures do not take into account the behavior of foreigners, some of whom – especially from the United States or Asia – are sorely lacking in the French tourism industry this year.
Despite these important reservations, “We can say that the French economy has come out of the crisis well”, emphasizes Mr. Plane. This is evidenced by the pleasant surprise of the unemployment figures, published in mid-August: the unemployment rate has almost returned to its level at the end of 2019, at 8% of the working population, said INSEE, while some saw it exceed 10%. Job creation is also on the rise. As for the “bankruptcy wall” feared by observers, it seems to be receding, even if it will be necessary to wait several more months, and in particular the repayment of loans guaranteed by the State, to know with precision the state of health of the French economic fabric. The government forecasts a 6% increase in GDP in 2021, after the 8% recession of 2020.
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