PARIS Feb 26 The number of people out of work
in France shot up again in January after a smaller rise in
December, piling new pressure on Socialist President Francois
Hollande who has made tackling joblessness his top priority.
The number of jobseekers in mainland France jumped by 43,900
or 1.4 percent, signalling a return to the rapid pace of
increase seen over 19 straight months to December - although
half of the rise was due to a change in methodology in January.
Without the adjustment the January increase would have been
22,800, still a much bigger jump than the 8,000 seen in December
and dealing a blow to Hollande, who has promised to stem the
rise in unemployment by the end of 2013.
After already backtracking in recent days on his growth and
deficit targets for 2013, Hollande admitted at the weekend that
weak growth would make his unemployment target, which is much
closer to voters' hearts, more difficult to reach.
The January jobless total of 3.17 million was the highest
since July 1997 and close to the all-time high of 3.196
million,according to labour ministry data released on Tuesday.
Analysts polled by Reuters predict the unemployment rate,
already above 10 percent, will keep rising until the start of
The labour ministry data is the most frequently reported
domestic jobs indicator for France, although it is not prepared
according to International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards
nor expressed as a percentage of job seekers in the work force.
In the change of methodology, the labour ministry on Jan. 1
pushed back the timeframe for when it removed people from its
job seekers list. That means that 21,100 people who would have
been struck off the roster in January will now be removed in
February, artificially inflating January's data.