Why the French Economy Is Still Struggling in 2020

The French economy is reeling from the historic strikes that have been affecting the nation over the last couple of months, according to recent articles about the country. In fact, “France's longest continuous transport strike has shaved up to 0.1 percentage points off fourth-quarter growth in 2019, the central bank said on Wednesday, as the showdown entered its 42nd day.”

The effect of the strikes has even negatively impacted the economy’s expected growth for this year, according to the AFP. “The effect has already been factored into the overall growth forecast of 0.2 percent for the final quarter, Banque de France governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau told a parliamentary finance committee,” as noted by the publication.

More specifically, businesses in the travel and hospitality industries have been most negatively impacted by the strikes, according to reports. " ‘An estimated 10 percent of businesses, mainly in the hotel, restaurant and transport industries have been affected by the stoppage,’ he said, but declined to comment on the disruptive labour action's potential impact on the economy in 2020,” wrote the AFP.

According to De Galhau, the economic impact of the strike was “limited” and actually “did not "diminish in any way the real discomfort suffered by millions of our fellow citizens, employees and merchants,” as noted by the publication.

The strikes have mostly been led by Metro and bus drivers who have been protesting the nation’s changes to its pension system. “For weeks, the vast majority of Paris Metro lines were closed or virtually unusable, suburban train numbers were slashed, and thousands of French people saw their December holiday plans dashed as regional and inter-city trains were cancelled,” according to the AFP.

But the strikes came at an especially damaging time for the French economy, hitting many businesses and tourism during the Christmas season. “Businesses complained of turnover losses of as much as 50 percent as the transport shortage kept clients away, especially damaging over the usually busy Christmas shopping season,” as explained by the publication.

Notably, this isn’t the first time France has been “paralyzed” by protests centered on the nation’s transportation system, according to a recent article. “The recent protests are an echo of those of the end of 1995, which were also driven by the proposed pension reforms. At that time, the French National Statistics Office (INSEE) estimated that the disturbances had an impact that reduced GDP in the last quarter by about 0.2%,” according to the publication.