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Over 3.2 million jobless in France: Labor Ministry

 
 
 
 
 
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An office of the French state-run employment agency, Pole Emploi, in the northern Paris suburb of Pantin.

The French Labor Ministry says the number of unemployed people in France increased by 36,900 in March, reaching 3.224 million for the first time since 1997.

The French ministry said on Thursday that the number of registered jobseekers in the eurozone’s second-largest economy surged by 1.2 percent, marking the 23rd consecutive monthly rise.

The previous jobless record in the country was in January 1997, when 3.195 million people were unemployed.

The rising unemployment figure “is a heavy trend that our country must reverse,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that the country’s working population had increased by about 3 million people since the previous record.

The figures are considered as 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.

Europe plunged into a financial crisis in early 2008. The worsening debt crisis has forced the EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms.

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