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Unemployment rate in France hits record high

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People queue at a Pole emploi (job centre) in September 2012. Photo: Jacques Demarthon/AFP
18:15 CEST+02:00
The number of unemployed people in France has reached a record high of 3.22 million, the worst figures since 1997, according to figures released on Thursday.

The much-anticipated jobs figures for March were released by the France's Labour Ministry on Thursday evening, and showed the number of unemployed in the Eurozone's second-largest economy now stands at 3,224,000.

That figure breaks the previous record of 3,195,500, reached in January 1997. France added 36,900 jobseekers in March.

The numbers are a blow, all be it an expected one, for Socialist President François Hollande, who has pledged to curb the unemployment rate from the current level of more than 10 percent to a single-digit figure by December.

Thursday's statistics also mean that the French economy has been steadily adding to its number of unemployed since May, 2008, making March the 58th consecutive monthly rise in the jobless total.

The latest figures come amid a constant drip of bleak economic news in France. 

In something of a sign of the times, last month French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced that 2,000 additional posts had been created at the Pôle Emploi – France’s national employment agency, in order to keep up with the rise in the number of jobseekers.

Earlier last month, the official INSEE statistics agency revealed that France had lost 100,000 private sector jobs in 2012 alone. The same report noted that joblessness had risen to 10.6 percent, its highest rate in almost 14 years. 

A separate INSEE report on March 7th showed the level of unemployment among young people hit 25.7 percent.

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Before the announcement of last month's jobless figures, Ayrault had attempted to send out a rallying cry, calling for "a united effort on jobs" in France's National Assembly.

The prime minister invited businesses, local communities and associations to pursue different plans to put the country's economy back on track, including using a variety of contract types, to boost hiring.

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