Unemployment and poverty – what official figures say about the state of France today

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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In September 2012 President François Hollande first used the famous expression that soon turned into an economic promise. The French government, he said, had to “reverse the unemployment trend”, later pledging that this would be achieved by the end of 2013. Today, nearly two years later, the government is staging its third 'social conference' bringing together unions, employers and ministers to back President Hollande’s much-heralded 40-billion-euro 'Responsibility Pact' which aims to cut employment costs for businesses in the hope that they will in return create new jobs. But meanwhile unemployment continues to rise. The total has now passed the symbolic threshold of five million if one includes what is known in France as categories A, B and C of the unemployed, which includes people looking for jobs who have worked for part of the previous month.