France

Unemployment here to stay, warns French government as joblessness nears three milion

Reuters/Philippe Desmazes/Pool

French unemployment will stay high for some time yet, warned Labour Minister Michel Sapin on Tuesday as the joblessness figures approached three million. On Tuesday evening Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault conceded that the government is set to reduce its growth forecast again but refused to give details for fear of demoralising the French people.

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“France is doing badly. The French economy is doing badly,” Sapin admitted on Tuesday.

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“The worsening of the employment situation will be longlasting but not eternal,” he continued.

July’s unemployment figures saw the 15th consecutive month-on-month rise, by 1.4 per cent to 2,987,100, the highest since June 1999.

The year-on-year rise is 8.5 per cent.

If part-time and short-time workers are included the figures is 4,453,800.

In an interview with RTL radio Sapin said that the government hoped to swiftly introduce its proposd “generation contracts”, which will help employers take on young workers on condition that they keep an older one who might otherwise have been fired.

On Monday evening the prime minister called for a “general mobilisation” in a prime-time interview with France 2 television.

While desperately trying to stay positive, Ayrault was forced to admit that the government is likely to reduce its forecasts of growth.

“I don’t want to give the figure this evening because I don’t want to demobilise people,” he said. “Because I think we also have to create confidence.”

Manufacturing bosses have lowered their investment plans for this year to five per cent, according to statistics institute Insee.

In April they were planning a six per cent rise, already down one per cent on their January forecast.

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