French unemployment rose again in August

French president Francois Hollande delivers a speech during the 76th congress of the Social Union for Housing on Sept 24, 2015 in Montpellier, southern France.
French president Francois Hollande delivers a speech during the 76th congress of the Social Union for Housing on Sept 24, 2015 in Montpellier, southern France. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - The French government announced on Thursday (Sept 24) that unemployment resumed its dogged ascent in August following a slight - and rare - dip in July, as the country struggles to escape years of economic sluggishness.

According to the labour ministry, the number of registered job seekers without any employment activity increased in August by 20,000 people - or 0.6 per cent - compared to July, when their ranks decreased by 0.1 per cent.

That rise brought the total number of partial or fully unemployed to 3.57 million people.

With the jobless rate currently at 10 per cent in the eurozone's second-largest economy, President Francois Hollande has staked his political future on reducing unemployment, saying he will not stand for re-election in 2017 unless he reverses a trend that has generally been on the rise for the better part of a decade.

Mr Hollande has acknowledged that reducing unemployment will be difficult against growth forecasts set at just one per cent this year and 1.5 per cent in 2016.

Most economists view annual expansion of 1.5 per cent as the minimum required to reduce joblessness.

Since Mr Hollande took office in 2012 amid the eurozone's enduring debt crisis and economic lethargy, a total of around 650,000 people have registered as unemployed in France.

The August figures brought the number of people without any work up to a total 4.4 per cent increase for the past year.

The total number of the long-term unemployed, meanwhile, rose by 0.8 per cent to 2.4 million people last month, part of a whopping 18.6 per cent rise in that category over the past year.