French jobless total close to 13-year high

Number of jobseekers in France rose to 2.9 million in June

(Reuters) — The number of jobseekers in France rose for the 14th month in a row in June to hit its highest level in nearly 13 years, adding pressure on the new Socialist government, which has made fighting unemployment a top priority.

Labour ministry data showed the number of registered jobseekers in mainland France rose by 23,700 last month to 2.946 million.

The jobless total was the highest since August 1999 and marked an increase of 0.8 per cent over one month and 7.8 per cent over one year.

"In the face of this situation, the government is fully mobilized," the labour ministry said in a statement.

President Francois Hollande rode to power in a presidential election in May vowing to tackle surging unemployment, but is struggling to halt waves of layoffs with the economy under threat of slipping into recession.

His government is battling to reduce the impact of 8,000 job cuts by French carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen.

Hollande pledged during the election campaign to create 80,000 subsidised jobs and hire 60,000 people in the education sector as well as create a so-called "generation contract" to encourage companies to hire young workers.

The labour ministry also said that discussions about schemes for reduced working time would be held with unions and employers during the second half of the year with the aim to reach an agreement in January.

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

The unemployment rate hit the psychologically important level of 10 per cent in the first quarter, the latest period for which ILO figures are available.

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