Jobless rate continues sharply higher

French unemployment rose in October for the 18th consecutive month, according to government figures released on Tuesday.

Jobless rate continues sharply higher
Labour Minister Michel Sapin (Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen)

An extra 45,500 people were added to the rolls of those seeking work, a 1.5 percent increase from September.

The ministry of labour said the number of people without any work rose to 3.1 million, up 10.6 percent from October 2011.
The number of workers registered for unemployment benefits who are employed part-time also rose significantly, up 71,500 from in September.

When this category of jobless persons is included, the total number of people seeking work climbs to 4.58 million.

The increase is the highest seen since April 2009, a period marked by the global financial crisis.

And the number of people out of work has not been as high since May 1998 as layoffs take their toll and workers over the age of 50 find it tougher to find jobs.

The figures come as another bad dose of news for the Socialist government of François Hollande.

Since Hollande was elected in May, 230,000 people have been added to the jobless rolls.

“This negative series of numbers reinforces our determination to act together to reverse the curve between now and the end of next year,” Labour Minister Michel Sapin told French media.

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Hollande says economy ‘is starting up again’

France's economy, the second-largest in the eurozone, will perk up slightly in the first half of the year but unemployment is expected to stay at record highs, according to forecasts.

Hollande says economy 'is starting up again'
Queues at a French job centre. File photo: AFP

In estimates released late Thursday, the INSEE national statistics office said the economy would grow by 0.4 percent in the first quarter of the year and by 0.3 percent in the second.

The forecasts suggest there is a good chance the French economy will grow faster over the whole year than the 1.0 percent Paris currently estimates.

"The one-percent for 2015, seen by many as unrealistic a few months ago, now looks like the minimum," said Finance Minister Michel Sapin.

However, the more positive growth outlook will be insufficient to drive down stubbornly high unemployment in France, INSEE predicted.

The jobless rate was forecast to hit a 20-year record high of 10.2 percent in mainland France.

Economists and the government estimate that a growth rate of around 1.5 percent annually is required to push unemployment down.

President Francois Hollande has pledged not to seek re-election in 2017 if he does not succeed in reversing the trend of increasingly high unemployment.

"Our economy is starting up again," Hollande said in a speech about the economy on Friday.

"The figures published this morning confirm that. But it is starting up too slowly. We are talking about a growth rate of more than one percent in 2015," said the president.

"But we should have bigger ambitions and we need more than one percent growth to create jobs," he said.