18th Jan 2020

French unemployment reaches new high

Unemployment in France reached a record high of 3.488 million people in November, data released on Wednesday (24 December) shows.

The figures mark an increase of 27,400 jobless compared to the previous month and an increase of 5.8 percent compared to the same period in the previous year.

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President Francois Hollande, who was elected in 2012 with the promise to create new jobs, has seen his popularity rate shrink to a record low of 12 percent in November.

He subsequently said in an interview with TF1 that he would not stand for re-election in 2017 if he fails to reduce unemployment.

Both Hollande and his government are under pressure from the European Commission and fellow eurozone countries to reduce the national budget deficit and reform the sluggish economy.

So far, his economic policies have not worked in his advantage.

Economic growth is projected to be of a meagre 0.4 percent this year and 0.7 next year. Only in 2016 is the economy expected to grow by 1.5 percent, the pace economists believe is needed for unemployment to shrink.

Hollande's government earlier this month unveiled plans aimed at boosting the economy, such as keeping shops open on Sunday and opening up some protected sectors to competition - a move promptly met with street protests in Paris.

In a state of "excessive deficit" since 2009, France has been given time until March to adopt measures that would tackle the bloated spending and introduce structural reforms.

Failure to deliver on these promises could trigger sanctions, when the EU commission reassesses France's performance in March.

Overall unemployment in the EU reached 24.4 million in October, according to the bloc's statistics office, Eurostat.

Compared to the previous month, the figure rose by 42,000, but compared to October 2013, unemployment fell by 549,000.

The countries with the lowest unemployment rates are Germany and Austria (around 5%), while Greece and Spain have the highest (25.9% and 24%).

France, with 10.5 percent unemployment, is just above the EU average of 10 percent.

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