French jobless rate jumps by record amount

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Unemployment in France soars by 90,200 to 2.2 million in January.

PARIS – French unemployment soared by 90,200 to 2.2 million in January, marking the highest one-month leap since records began, the employment ministry said Wednesday.

Official figures confirmed a dramatic ongoing climb in the numbers of French adults out of work and seeking employment, with January's total up 4.3 percent on the month and 15.4 percent over the year.

The recent surge has pushed France's unemployment rate to more than eight percent, and European Commission experts predict the official rate will hit 9.8 percent by the end of this year and 10.6 percent in 2010.

Before January's dramatic spike, the biggest one-month leap had been in November last year, when 65,000 people lost their jobs as the credit crunch hit manufacturing and financial services.

The crisis is now spreading throughout the economy, despite President Nicolas Sarkozy's announcement of EUR 28.6 billion in stimulus measures, mainly targeted at industry.

January's losses were worse for men, with joblessness up 5.5 percent, than for women at 2.9 percent, and hit young people worse than the over 25s.

The number of vacant posts advertised in France's state job centres is down by more than 29 percent on the same period last year, the ministry added.

France was slower than some of its neighbours to fall into a technical recession, defined as two successive quarters of negative growth, but the government now admits that this is inevitable.

Secretary of State for Employment Laurent Wauquiez said on France 3 television that he expected rising jobless figures on a similar scale to January's for "several months" to come.

AFP / Expatica

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