Unemployment in France rises to 14-year peak

 
Ben Southwood
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FRENCH unemployment rocketed to a 14-year high in November, data out yesterday revealed, as the Eurozone’s second biggest economy struggles to deal with the continent’s debt crisis and a sclerotic labour market.

The number out of work increased 45,400 in November, the 18th consecutive rise, bringing the total to 3.1m – the highest level since April 1998 – the Labour Ministry data revealed. This development will only add to the pressure on President Francois Hollande, who succeeded Nicolas Sarkozy partially on the back of a promise to fight unemployment.

Consumer confidence data did little did work against the gloom in the labour market. Insee’s measure of consumer opinion stayed flat at 84 – well below the 24 year average of 100.

Meanwhile Portugal’s parliament approved another austerity budget, despite protests and unemployment predicted to risen even higher than its current 15.8 per cent. But the country’s consensus came apart, with the ruling majority Social Democrats and CDS facing opposition from Socialists, who called the budget’s tax hikes “a fiscal nuclear bomb.”