French unemployment up 0.5% in November

AFP (file photo)

The number of people out of work in France rose 0.5% to 3,293,000 in November, bad news for French President François Hollande who has yet to deliver on his pledge to reverse the rise in France's unemployment rate by the end of the year.


In October, French unemployment fell slightly for the first time in more than two years, leading Hollande to declare a start to the recovery he promised as a presidential candidate back in 2012.

The French president has spent a good part of his first two years in office hammering home his vows to bring down the unemployment rate, which has hovered around a stubborn 10.5%.

Thursday’s bad news is likely to be a further blow to his image – and to that of his ruling Socialists – just months before local elections in March.

Up until Thursday, Hollande could find some comfort in the fact that the last six months have seen a decline in unemployment for young job seekers.

But the jobless rate has continued to rise for older people in France, as well as for those who have been unemployed over a long period of time.

“Two things are necessary [in 2014],” Hollande said on Monday at the year’s last cabinet meeting, according to his spokesperson. “Durably lowering unemployment and durably renewing growth.”

In order to achieve those goals, the administration has been relying on policies aimed at boosting employment: government-funded jobs for individuals with no higher education and a series of tax incentives for French companies.

Hollande’s labour minister, Michel Sapin, has predicted a continued fall in unemployment, though he has cautioned that there could be occasional upticks, as well.

Lowering expectations for his boss, Sapin had reminded voters and journalists ahead of Thursday’s announcement that the figures are, in fact, not the last ones to be announced in 2014: December jobs data is expected at the end of January.

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