French unemployment rate hits 12-year high ahead of presidential run-off

Latest unemployment figures come days ahead of presidential election
Latest unemployment figures come days ahead of presidential election AFP/François Nascimbeni

French unemployment has reached its highest level since 1999 increasing by 16,600 to reach 2.88 million. The 0.6 percent rise for March was the eleventh consecutive monthly rise and up on February's 0.2 per cent rise. 


he latest figures are bad news for incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy who is seeking re-election in a 6 May presidential run-off vote against his Socialist rival Francois Hollande.

Before his election in 2007, Sarkozy vowed to lower joblessness to five per cent, but the unemployment level hit 9.3 per cent in the third quarter of last year and is on track to surpass 10 per cent.

Other figures out on Friday, show French household spending fell by 2.9 per cent in March from February, mainly due to fewer purchases of energy products and food.

Consumption had jumped by a monthly 2.9 per cent in February as households turned up the heat to battle a cold wave that swept over the country.

Over the first quarter of 2012, consumption gained 0.2 per cent on a quarterly basis, following a rise of 0.3 percent in the last three months of 2011, the national statistics office, Insee said.

In March purchases of food items fell by 2.3 per cent however, following increases in the previous two months, the data showed.

The French economy, the second biggest in the 17-nation eurozone, is forecast to grow by 0.5 per cent this year according to the latest estimate by the International Monetary Fund.


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