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French unemployment hits 14-year high

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

French unemployment hit a 14-year high at 10.6 per cent of the working population in the last quarter of 2012. Youth unemployment stood at 25.7 per cent.


Official unemployment now stands at 2.9 million people, according to state statistics
institute Insee, but the number looking for work is actually 3.7 million if those not registered at labour exchanges or not immediately available are added.

Unemployment has been rising for six quarters and rose three points in the last quarter of 2012.

At 10.6 per cent, if overseas territories are included, the last quarter of 2012 was the first time since 1999 that joblessness has been over 10 per cent, although it had not yet hit 10.8 per cent, the record reached in 1994 and 1997.

The Insee figures show:

  • Youth unemployment at a record 25.7 per cent, ie 730,000, up 3.4 per cent over the whole of 2012;
  • Unemployment has risen more among men than among women;
  • 4.9 per cent of the working-age population is involuntarily working part time;
  • Unemployment is expected to be 10.9 per cent in the second quarter of 2013.

Industrial Recovery Minister Arnaud Montebourg blamed the figures on the Europe-wide economic crisis, pointing out that Germany suffered -0.6 per cent growth, compared to France’s -0.3 per cent in the period concerned.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Germany’s unemployment currently stands at 6.8 per cent, although the government has been accused of concealing a fall in lower-end wages in a recent report on incomes.

Far-right Front National leader Marine Le Pen reacted to the figures by repeating her call for a referendum on membership of the European Union, which she claimed is “an implacable recipe for mass unemployment”.


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