Thousands of jobs lost as new building permits plummet in France

In the south constructions have dropped by almost a third

Numbers have been dropping for more than a year

The number of building permits to construct new homes in France has continued to fall, fuelling fears for the property market and thousands of jobs in the sector.

Between April 2023 and March 2024, only 358,600 permits to build were issued, almost 20% lower than in the previous 12 months, preliminary data from the Ministry of Ecological Transition shows.

This is the lowest number awarded since 2015, and is particularly serious for detached houses, which saw a 22.2% drop compared to last year’s figures.

It follows a mini-boom during the Covid era when the number of building permits handed out reached a high of just over 500,000 between September 2021 and 2022. 

There are also stark differences between regions, with the capital (Île-de-France) and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur areas seeing the most aggressive drop.

The number of permits handed out in these two regions declined by 26.1% and 28.8% respectively. High property prices in these areas are partly the cause of the decrease.

In comparison, in Hauts-de-France and Brittany the drops were only 4.8% and 8.7% respectively.

The figures do not bode well for a property market where first-time buyers are still struggling to access properties, even if buyers in general are in a stronger position than sellers in 2024. 

Read more: Where in France are people now negotiating most off a property?

In addition, there is less support for those buying new-builds – such as through the buy-to-let Pinel scheme – which is further reducing the interest in new properties and seeing buyers focus on existing properties instead.

Job losses on the horizon 

The rising cost of raw materials, labour power, and stricter environmental standards have all made constructors more wary of building new homes. 

Thousands of construction workers have already lost their jobs, with larger developers cutting back on numbers and many smaller companies filing for bankruptcy.

The French Building Federation (Fédération française du bâtiment) predicts that around 90,000 workers in the sector will lose their job by December 2024, rising to 150,000 by the end of the 2025

Read more: Rural France will suffer most from ‘no new-build’ policy, warn mayors

It is worth noting that the permis de construire spoken about here are only in relation to building new properties (logements autorisés), and not to larger property extensions for already-existing homes.