French unemployment hovers near 1997 record

PARIS (AFP) - The number of unemployed in France rose by 18,400 last month to 3.187 million, the labour ministry said on Tuesday, a level just shy of a record reached in 1997.

Unemployment in the euro zone's second-largest economy hit its modern day record of 3.195 million in January 1997.

It is a major challenge for Socialist President Francois Hollande, who has pledged to curb the unemployment rate from the current level of more than 10 per cent to a single-digit figure by December.

The rise in February represents a 0.6 per cent month-on-month increase and a 10.8 per cent rise annually. The ministry said workers over 50 were the worst hit.