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French unemployment hits 16-year high in third quarter

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France's unemployment rate rose 0.1 percentage points to a 16-year high of 10.9 percent in the three months through September, the INSEE national statistics agency said Thursday.

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France's unemployment rate rose to a 16-year high of 10.9 percent in the three months to September, the INSEE national statistics agency said Thursday, adding to pressure on President Francois Hollande in his battle to tackle France’s unemployment.

The jobless rate rose 0.1 percentage points from the previous three months, the new data showed.

The unemployment rate for metropolitan France, which excludes overseas territories and is more closely watched domestically, also rose by 0.1 percentage point in the same period to 10.5 percent.

The 16-year high remains significantly below the record high of 11.2 percent unemployment that France saw in 1997.

The new figures will compound the troubles of President François Hollande as he struggles against a plummeting approval rating. Hollande has pinned his political fortunes to turning the economy around, vowing to make lowering unemployment his top political priority.

Rising at a slower rate

INSEE's Frederic Tallet, who is in charge of employment data, noted that the unemployment rate was increasing at a slower pace since the beginning of 2013 after two years of more rapid rises.

"We had about an average of 60,000 more jobless people in every quarter between mid-2011 and end-2012, but since the beginning of the year, that increase is [slowing]," he said.

Unemployment for young people remained stable at 24.5 percent after reaching a peak of 25.5 percent at the end of 2012.

The proportion of youth in employment was also down 0.4 percent from the previous quarter.

But Natixis economist Philippe Waechter said that data may indicate that young people are becoming disenfranchised.

"It means that some youths are not anywhere, neither looking for a job nor in employment," he said. "That could be a sign of some sort of desocialisation."

INSEE's new figures also revised the unemployment rate for the second quarter downward to 10.4 percent instead of the previously posted 10.5 percent.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AFP)

 

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