Copé tells French employment minister to resign as new figures show record 3.3 m jobless
Opposition UMP leader Jean-François Copé has called on the French employment minister to resign over the government’s failure to reverse the rise in unemployment, in line with President Hollande’s key pledge.
Figures released on Monday show the number of registered jobless rose to a record 3.3 million in December.
Hollande had promised to reverse the upward trend by the end of last year.
The number of job-seekers rose by 10,200, the employment ministry said. If those in part-time employment are included, the number of unemployed reaches 4.89 million, another record.
A slight fall in the number of unemployed for October had raised government hopes that after several years, France might have finally turned a corner on jobs.
Despite the bleak figures, Hollande, who is currently in Turkey, said that unemployment had "stabilised" but added that "this is not enough."
The employment ministry said the average quarterly rise in unemployment had fallen from 33,000 at the start of last year to 2,500 at the end of 2013.
"The inversion of the unemployment curve for all age groups has not been achieved in the last quarter although we were very close to that," the ministry said.
Official figures showed the number of unemployed youths aged under 25 had steadily fallen over eight months. Jobless figures of those aged between 25 and 50 had also started falling in the last quarter but this was not the case for those aged 50 and above.
After the figures were announced, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault stressed the need to move "further, faster and more strongly" to fight unemployment.
The new figures came as the government opened talks to flesh out a so-called "Responsibility Pact" proposed by Hollande which would offer businesses tax cuts in return for job creation.
Hollande proposes removing some taxes and the social security payments paid by businesses on behalf of their employees.
He also talked of 50 billion euros in spending cuts over three years to try to kickstart growth and revitalise the eurozone's second economy.
There have been few details on how the government would pay for lowering taxes and which spending would be cut, while some employers have pointed out that they can only create jobs when they make sales.
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