French unemployment rate at 16-year high

French unemployment rate at 16-year high
# 26 March 2013 23:56 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. The number of jobless people in France has climbed towards a record high in February for the 22nd month running, and has reached its highest level since 1997, APA reports quoting Press TV.

Data released from the French Labor Ministry showed on Tuesday that the number of registered jobseekers in the eurozone's second-largest economy rose by 18,400 from January to 3.188 million, Reuters reported.

The figures were the highest since June 1997 and ever closer to the record of 3.196 reached in January of that year.

The numbers are a major challenge for Socialist President Francois Hollande, who has pledged to curb the unemployment rate from the current level of more than 10 percent to a single-digit figure by December.

Hollande's popularity, which had already been affected by the poor performance of the economy, is shrinking to record lows. In March, only 30 percent of the 1,000 people surveyed by the polling company TNS Sofres said they were satisfied with the president, down from the 35 percent recorded the previous month.

Rising unemployment rate in France is indicative of its weak economic growth, and the country registered zero growth in 2012. Economic experts at the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) expect the same in the first quarter of this year.

On Tuesday, the American financial services company Standard & Poor's (S&P) said that the French economy would shrink 0.2 percent this year with neither consumers nor business in a position to push a recovery.

"Unless French export product growth picks up significantly, the French economy is likely to remain in a no-growth mode in 2013 and for the best part of 2014," it said.

"In view of recent trends, such an increase in exports seems unlikely, in our opinion," S&P added.

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