French unemployment rose to a fresh record high in April, official statistics published Monday showed, with 3.53 million people out of work, a rise of 26,000 compared with the previous month.
The news will come as a blow to the government of President Francois Hollande, who has pledged not to seek a second term in office in 2017 if he fails to reverse the upward trend in unemployment.
Paris was buoyed last month by better-than-expected quarterly growth figures showing that the French economy, the second biggest in the eurozone, grew by 0.6 percent.
This prompted Finance Minister Michel Sapin to say that an annual growth rate of 1.5 percent — seen as the rate required to shorten the jobless lines — was “perfectly possible”, even if the official forecast remains for 1.0 percent.
But the labour ministry, which publishes the figures, warned: “We will need a few months before the economic pick-up translates into jobs.”
“I know that 2015 will be better than 2014,” said Labour Minister Francois Rebsamen, before the figures were published.
“According to economists, you need a growth rate between 1.3 and 1.5 for unemployment to start to drop back. That's what the government is hoping for.
“We're doing everything we can to have that rate at the end of the year. If we get it, then we will see unemployment dropping back,” added the minister.
Since Hollande was elected more than three years ago, he has seen the monthly unemployment figures decline only four times and 600,000 more jobseekers have been added to the queue.
Of particular concern is the percentage of long-term unemployed, which has grown by more than 10 percent in a year.