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Why Jeb Bush’s ‘French work week’ comment was completely wrong

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - FEBRUARY 27:  Former Florida Jeb Bush speaks during an interview at the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) February 27, 2015 in National Harbor, Maryland. Conservative activists attended the annual political conference to discuss their agenda.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - FEBRUARY 27:  Former Florida Jeb Bush speaks during an interview at the 42nd annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) February 27, 2015 in National Harbor, Maryland. Conservative activists attended the annual political conference to discuss their agenda.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Florida Jeb Bush speaks during an interview.Alex Wong 2015 Getty Images

When attempting to criticize Marco Rubio for not “showing up to work” during Wednesday night’s GOP debate on CNBC, Jeb Bush questioned: “The Senate, what is it like a French work week? You get like three days where you have to show up?”

France’s Ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, was quick to point out the inaccuracy of Bush’s comment.

In 2000, France implemented an official 35-hour work week, and has recently been considering getting rid of it altogether, especially since most people don’t adhere to it anyway.

In 2014, Eurostat reported that full-time employees in France worked an average of 40.5 hours per week. A Gallup poll conducted in the same year shows that Americans employed full-time work an average of 46.7 hours per week, less than an extra hour per day as compared to the French.

It’s unclear where Araud pulled his numbers from, but if his estimation of 39.6 hours per week reflects all workers, both part-time and full-time, then the French work longer hours than Americans. Gallup measured that part-time American employees work an average of 25.9 hours each week, bringing the total average down to 36.3.

Despite how many hours France may work compared to the U.S., the former country is more productive. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development graphed each country’s GDP per hour worked, which measures how efficient the workforce is overall. In 2014 France’s GDP per hour was 103.08, and in the U.S. it was 102.03; the average of all participating countries was 103.03.

Though Bush didn’t get it right, the ambassador’s criticism of our own country’s shortcomings was right on the money: