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On Monday July 7th the French government began the third of its so-called 'social conferences' in which employer and worker representatives debate plans to tackle the country’s social and economic problems. At stake this time is President François Hollande's much-vaunted but controversial 'Responsibility Pact' aimed at giving a 40-billion-euro incentive to the country's bosses to hire staff and thus cut the jobless total. Here Mediapart looks at the main economic and social indicators which all illustrate the challenges faced by the government; rising unemployment, growing poverty and financial hardship, and the destruction of industrial jobs. Yannick Sanchez and Thomas Saint-Cricq report.
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