French jobless total passes record 4.5 million after 22% monthly hike

The unemployment figures do not include people who have been put on state-subsided furloughs during the crisis.
The unemployment figures do not include people who have been put on state-subsided furloughs during the crisis. © Pascal Guyot, AFP

The number of people in France looking for jobs surged in April by 22.6 percent to a record high as a nationwide coronavirus lockdown shut down swathes of the economy, Labour Ministry data showed on Thursday.

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The number of people registered as seeking work jumped by 843,000 from March to 4,575,500, the highest since records began in 1996, France's labour ministry said.

The ministry said that the surge was due to a nearly 35 percent drop in the number of people getting new jobs.

The data do not include people who have been put on state-subsided furloughs during the crisis, which the ministry said on Wednesday numbered nearly 13 million.

France's government put the country under one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe in mid-March and the country is only gradually emerging after the first restrictions were lifted on May 11. 

Earlier this week, the Insee national statistics agency said the French economy is on course to shrink by 20 percent in the second quarter from the previous three months, marking a sharp deterioration in the country’s recession.

Insee said the economy could contract 8% for the whole of 2020 in the unlikely scenario that activity returned to pre-crisis levels by July.

In a bid to revive France's flagging economy, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will unveil the second phase of the country's gradual exit from lockdown on Thursday.

Philippe is expected to announce that bars, cafes and restaurants in much of France can reopen from next week, though businesses in Paris and other hard-hit areas will have to wait longer.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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