FRANCE/FILE: Unemployment rises above three million people in France, its worst level since 1999Record ID: 677524
- Title: FRANCE/FILE: Unemployment rises above three million people in France, its worst level since 1999
- Date: 27th September 2012
- Summary: AULNAY-SOUS-BOIS, FRANCE (JULY 12, 2012) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF EXTERIORS OF PEUGEOT PLANT
- Reuters ID: LVA4OGKZ62OSP6Q6JD9NEEWU9Y5Z
- Location: France
- Country: France
- Duration: 00:00:04
- Topics: Employment,Politics
- Story Text: Unemployment in France crossed the three million mark threshold on Wednesday (September 26), its worst level since 1999 and the sixteenth consecutive month of increase, dealing a blow to the government of new Socialist president Francois Hollande who won elections earlier this year with pledges to cut the swelling ranks of jobless.
Official data were due to be announced later on Wednesday, but Labour Minister Michel Sapin told French television that the main figure for jobless in mainland France crossed the three million mark in August.
Unemployment briefly dipped more than a year ago after rising during the financial crisis that began in 2008. But it then turned back up as the euro zone crisis began to bite and economies in many of France's main export markets stagnated or began to contract and domestic consumption also eased back.
Economists warn that the trend is unlikely to change in coming months, with long-term joblessness posing a particular problem.
"There is almost one million more unemployed people compared to the beginning of 2008, and we can't say at all, that we have reached a peak," said Mathieu Plane, an economist at the OFCE, an economic think-tank.
"On the contrary, we are likely to see a rise of the unemployment. Unfortunately when you look at figures, you can see that the long-term unemployment increases more and more. Those who become unemployed, remain unemployed, people get older and unemployed, there is a drift towards job insecurity and poverty," he said.
For the unemployed themselves, the worsening figures mean increased hopelessness and embarrassment.
"When I go to a public office and they ask what my job is, I don't dare saying I am unemployed. I cheat, I don't want to say I am unemployed, I write down my old job, a job I did in the past, no I don't say I am unemployed. Because actually I am ashamed of it," said Gilles, an unemployed man who spoke to Reuters Television late last week. A coach for foreigners, he has known frequent periods of unemployment over the last 12 years, interspersed with temporary contracts.
A long list of companies have either announced plans for layoffs or are at the heart of media speculation that they shortly will.
Drugs giant Sanofi, France's second-largest company by market capitalisation on Tuesday announced plans for 900 job cuts, prompting one minister to say it was acting in an abusive manner. Troubled car group Peugeot is expected to close a major plant and shed 8,000 jobs. Air France, telecoms group SFR and electronics giant Alcatel Lucent either have announced cuts, or are expected to do so shortly.
Hollande, who has pledged to reverse the trend within a year, has shown support by receiving delegations of workers, most recently from Peugeot. But economists say that while political pressure can probably limit the extent of the losses, turning things around by passing reforms to free up the labour market will be a far harder job.
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