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The French labour market further tightened last month as the number of unemployed people in the country rose to a new high in March, official data shows. According to the labour ministry, 3.2 million people are now seeking work in France, an increase of +11.5% from a year ago.
In March, the number of jobseekers rose by +1.2% from February. Following massive job cuts in the industrial sector, the figure is now the highest since records began in 1996. In Europe’s second-largest economy, unemployment stands above the 10% mark and the government has pledged to cut joblessness to a single-digit figure by the end of the year.
The news comes as a blow to French president Francois Hollande. Speaking at a state visit in China, he said the government was focused on tackling rising unemployment. “Everything the government does, in every ministry, must be to continue to strengthen the battle for jobs. I want all the French people to unite behind this one national priority,” he said at a news conference.
Economic growth in France is expected to remain sluggish this year, and the OECD recently warned that France can only create more jobs when GDP reaches at least 1%.