French unemployment rate hits 16-year high of 10.9%

Latest jobless figures adds to pressure on Hollande in his battle to get unemployment down

French president Francois Hollande  is struggling to live up to a pledge to get unemployment firmly on a downward trend by year end. Photograph: Etienne Laurent/Reuters

French president Francois Hollande is struggling to live up to a pledge to get unemployment firmly on a downward trend by year end. Photograph: Etienne Laurent/Reuters

Thu, Dec 5, 2013, 07:29

France’s jobless rate inched up in the third quarter to a 16-year high of 10.9 percent, adding to pressure on president Francois Hollande in his battle to get unemployment falling.

The increase in unemployment, measured according to the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) criteria, brought the jobless rate closer to an all-time high for France of 11.2 per cent reached in 1997.

The rate was 10.8 per cent in the second quarter, revised down from 10.9 per cent in an initial estimate, the INSEE statistics agency said. His economic credibility on the line, Mr Hollande is struggling to live up to a pledge to get unemployment firmly on a downward trend by year end.

Monthly jobless claims for October offered a ray of hope for the unpopular president, slipping back from a record the previous month. Nonetheless, corporate layoffs continue to dominate French media headlines and concerns about unemployment are weighing on consumer confidence, according to the latest surveys.

INSEE said the unemployment rate for mainland France, which excludes France’s overseas territories and is more closely followed domestically than the overall rate, rose to 10.5 in the third quarter from 10.4 per cent in the previous three months.