French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Monday announced that from September 2013, there would be 2,000 new national ‘job centre’ agents, to keep pace with the ongoing rise in unemployment.
“I want this decision put in place quickly so that the new agents are working by the end of the summer at the latest, and at the disposal of jobseekers and businesses alike,” Ayrault said in a statement on Monday.
With the addition of these latest permanent contracts (CDIs), the Socialist government of François Hollande will have added a total of 6,000 Pôle Emploi agents since taking power in May 2012.
This means the national network of job centres will by September employ a total of 45,000 agents, tasked with finding work for the unemployed, and managing benefit payments.
The 2,000 new recruits announced on Monday will have their work cut out for them, however, as France’s number of jobseekers continues to rise towards record levels.
The latest unemployment figures (from February) are set to be announced on Tuesday, and could surpass the French record of 3.2 million, reached back in 1997. French unemployment rose to 10.6 percent of the workforce in the fourth quarter of 2012, the highest level in almost 14 years, and President Francois Hollande has vowed to turn the trend around by the end of this year.
Earlier this month the official INSEE statistics agency reported that France lost nearly 100,000 private sector jobs in 2012 as the country struggled with a stagnant economy and chronic unemployment.
Temporary contract jobs were the hardest hit, with 61,000 of them lost last year. INSEE said that 29,400 jobs were lost in the industrial sector and 13,800 in construction.