French jobless claims highest since Sept. 1999

Number of registered jobseekers at 2.89 million
By Brian Love
||Last Updated: 05/30/2012

PARIS (Reuters) — The number of jobless people in France rose for a 12th month running in April to stand at its highest since September 1999, highlighting the challenge facing new Socialist president Francois Hollande.

The number of registered jobseekers in mainland France rose by 4,500 to 2.89 million, up 0.1 per cent from March, according to the labour ministry, which was giving its first monthly readout since Hollande named an interim government in mid-May.

Hollande, elected on a tax-and-spend program, has promised to create 150,000 state-aided jobs and recruit 60,000 staff in the national education service during his five-year term but has stopped short of announcing targets for jobless reduction.

The new data is the most frequently reported domestic jobs indicator for France, although it is not prepared according to widely used International Labor Organisation (ILO) standards nor expressed as an unemployment rate of number of jobseekers compared to the total workforce.

The CGT trade union, one of the country's largest, told the government at a meeting on Tuesday that some 45,000 jobs risked being lost in the near term in France, where economic growth as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) halted in the first quarter of the year.

That estimate, presented at a meeting between unions and the government, was described as "realistic" by Labour Minister Michel Sapin on Wednesday.

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