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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Nouvel échec sur le front de l’emploi

by Kevin Boucaud

New Defeat on Jobs Front

Translated Wednesday 25 March 2015, by Gene Zbikowski

The French government has experienced another disappointment with regard to unemployment. At the end of 2014, joblessness hit the fateful 10% level, which the government wished to avoid at any cost.

This is another piece of news which the government could have done without. In June, it was hoping to keep the unemployment rate “below 10%,” according to François Rebsamen, the minister for labor. Unfortunately, this level has been reached according to the national instituted for statistics and economic studies (INSEE). The unemployment rate, as defined by the international labor office (ILO) – which includes unemployed people, 15 or older, available for work within two weeks and who have been actively and unsuccessfully looking for work in the preceding month – the unemployment rate rose 0.1% in mainland France in the fourth quarter of 2014 and reached 10%.

The 10% rate corresponds to a total of 2,877,000 registered job-seekers, 124,000 more than at the end of 2013. Moreover, INSEE points out that “in mainland France, among the inactive people as defined by the ILO, 1.4 million people were looking for a job but were not counted in the unemployed population as defined by the ILO.”

When France’s overseas départements are counted, the unemployment rate climbs another 0.1 percent, to reach 10.4% at the end of 2014. Over one year, the unemployment rate has risen 0.4% in mainland France and 0.3% in the whole of France, returning, in both cases, to its mid-2013 level.

A closer look shows that the rise in unemployment is entirely in the intermediary age category (the 25-49 age group), which has seen its unemployment rate rise 0.2% in the course of the fourth quarter, to hit 9.5%. Youth unemployment (the 15-24 age group) has been stable at 23.7%, as has been unemployment among the old (the 50-64 age group), at 6.8%. Over a year, youth unemployment has, all the same, risen by one percent. By sex, female unemployment has stagnated at 9.7% whereas male unemployment has risen 0.3% to hit 10.4%.

Another negative indicator, “under-employment” – which is mostly made up of part-time workers who wish to work more – increased by 0.1%. This concerns 6.5% of the workforce, according to INSEE.

These disastrous figures are to be explained by lifeless growth in economic activity, which is due to the budgetary austerity that is weighing down on household demand and government administration demand. In this context, it is very probable that François Rebsamen will experience more disappointments. Indeed, Rebsamen, counting on the combined falls in the euro exchange rate and the price of oil, and on the European investment plan, to stimulate economic activity, recently stated that “the number of unemployed will fall by the end of the year” 2015 thanks to “an alignment of the stars that is rather favorable” to the economy.

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