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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le chômage continue d’augmenter en février

by Fanny Doumayrou

Unemployment Up Again in February

Translated Thursday 1 April 2010, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Gene Zbikowski

With an additional 7,800 job-seekers in February according to the figures from the government Employment Pole, the rise in joblessness remains worrying, though weaker than in January.

A slight increase, but an increase just the same. The number of job-seekers listed at the Employment Pole increased by 0.1% in February, i.e. an additional 3,300 people in category A (job-seekers who did not work at all that month and by 0.2%, i.e. 7,800 more people in categories A, B and C (including job-seekers who did some work that month). In all, the official number of job-seekers comes to 2,667,900 people in category A, and 3,872,9000 in categories A, B, and C; increasing to 4,112,100 when the overseas départements are included, according to the statistics published yesterday.

A lethargic upturn

The increase in unemployment is half as high as last month’s, and far less than some months in 2009, like April’s, when 90,800 additional job-seekers were added to the rolls. This made it possible for Economy Minister Christine Lagarde to announce, first thing yesterday morning, a “very slight rise in unemployment” in which she could even see “stabilization.”

The previous day, however, the Employment Pole’s analysis of the “economic perspectives for 2011” scarcely gave reason for optimism. The document underlines that, although the end of the recession began in the second quarter of 2009, “the basic factors remain fragile and hint at a lethargic upturn.” Thus in 2010 household consumption will remain weak due to sluggish growth in wages and uncertainty about the future, whereas investment, down 6.9% in 2009, should only grow moderately, notably in industry where government assistance will be coming to an end.

Thus the Employment Pole foresees a 1.6% rise in GDP in 2010, and 1.4% in 2011, following a 2.2% drop in 2009. In this context, the economy will continue to shed jobs in 2010 (loss of 32,000 jobs), following the loss of 297,000 jobs in 2009, before creating 85,000 jobs in 2011. Logically, unemployment should continue to swell, but at a slower rate. While 593,000 new job-seekers were added to the roles in categories A, B, and C in 2009, amounting to 9.6% of the active population, the rise in 2010 should be “only” 135,000 additional unemployed, amounting to 9.8% of the active population, before falling to 57,000 new unemployed in 2011, and a return to a 9.6% rate of unemployment.

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