The number of people claiming unemployment benefits in France shot to a record high of 3.279m in June – up 11.2 per cent from the year before and half a percentage point from May 2013.
This will be a blow for French president Francois Hollande who infamously said earlier this month that “the economic recovery is here” after a pick-up in industrial production and a slight recovery in consumption. In a speech in December 2012, he also pledged to reverse unemployment by the end of this year.
But on 12 July 2013, Fitch Ratings' stripped France of its AAA credit rating, citing worries over its high level of government debt, its high unemployment rate, and substantially weaker economic output.
Hollande remains curiously optimistic, but has at least acknowledged that unemployment is a problem, announcing yesterday the opening of 10,000 trainings in 2014, building on the 30,000 he announced last month to open by the end of this year. France is one of just a few rich countries (including Spain and Italy) with double digit unemployment.
There was perhaps one good sign in today's figures. While young people have been hardest hit by unemployment in the eurozone, the number registering as out of work in June was down 0.3 per cent from the month before to 555,800.
It's also worth noting that French manufacturing and services contracted by less than expected (a win?) with Markit purchasing manager's index (PMI) for manufacturing rising to 49.8 (48.8 expected) and services to 48.3 (47.7 expected).