French unemployment rises for 24th month

The French stock exchange fell 38.66 points at opening Friday after the announcement of more miserable economic figures, notably the 24th consecutive monthly rise in unemployment.

François Hollande and Angela Merkel at the Elysée presidential palace in Paris on Thursday
François Hollande and Angela Merkel at the Elysée presidential palace in Paris on Thursday Reuters/Charles Platiau

The number of registered jobseekers in France rose by nearly 40,000 in April to hit a record 3.26 million.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

It was the 24th consecutive month of rising unemployment, as President François Hollande struggles to revive an economy that fell into recession in the first quarter of 2013.

The figure represents over 1,300 new jobseekers per day, a 12.5 per cent increase in jobseekers compared to a year ago.

With jobseekers and the partially employed in France's overseas territories included, April's figure rises to almost 5.1 million registered unemployed.

“It’s a scandal that the government just gives up, saying that it will get better one day;” stormed Xavier Bertrand, an MP for the mainstream right-wing UMP.

Hard-left leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon dubbed the figures “terrifying”, adding that the situation “can only get worse” and accusing Hollande of handing favours to the bosses on the orders of the European Commission.

Eurozone unemployment hit 12.2 per cent, at 19.38 million, officials announced Friday.

French consumer spending fell 0.3 per cent in April, according to statistics institute Insee, indicating widespread pessimism over the economy’s prospects.

Hollande was joined by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris on Thursday evening to discuss joint proposals to be made to the Council of Europe meeting on 27-28 June.

The pair agreed to push for fiscal harmonisation and the appointment of a full-time president of the Eurogroup, Hollande said.

Merkel boasted that Germany has “never had so many people in employment, even if some people think that their salaries are not high enough”.

She called for more competitivity in the rest of Europe, arguing that “if Germany had higher salaries, exports would go down and unemployment would rise again”.

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