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Last Updated: Friday, 29 April, 2005, 09:46 GMT 10:46 UK
French jobless rate on the rise
French seamen protesting over job-loss fears
French workers have protested against job losses this year
French unemployment has risen to its highest level in five years, increasing concerns about the strength of France's economic growth.

The jobless rate in March, as measured according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) method, rose by 0.1% from February to 10.2%.

The rate is the highest level seen since December 1999.

The unemployment level, also under ILO measurements, jumped by 7,000 to reach 2.8 million people.

They were also worse than analysts' predictions, with most commentators expecting the jobless rate to remain flat at 10.1%.

This year... we should expect a deterioration of the job market
Carol Hainaut, Natexis Banques Populaires

The French figures come a day after the latest German unemployment figures showed a fall in the jobless total there.

The number of people out of work in Germany fell by 208,000 to 4.98 million in April, according to figures - which were calculated in a different way to the ILO method - from the German Federal Labour Office.

'Unsurprising'

French industrial demand is now expected to fall in the second quarter of 2005.

Carol Hainaut, economist at Natexis Banques Populaires, said France could expect further job losses throughout 2005.

"The rise in the unemployment rate is stronger than expected, but it's not so surprising," she said.

"Last year, the French economy didn't create jobs although it enjoyed robust economist growth.

"This year, which won't be as good economically, we should expect a deterioration of the job market."

Union action

A number of factors are said to be pressing down on France's economy, including the high global oil prices and continuing weak French consumer confidence.

The country has also been hit by a number of strikes over potential job losses, including wine growers, rail workers and seamen.

Many analysts believe the high levels of unemployment will add to the strength of the "no" campaign ahead of the French referendum on the European Union constitution on 29 May.

A number of French unions have blamed the eastern expansion of the EU for job losses, believing French workers are losing out to the low wage economies of the new EU member states, such as Poland and the Czech Republic.




SEE ALSO:
German jobless rate in shock dip
28 Apr 05 |  Business
French consumer spending rising
22 Feb 05 |  Business
Consumers drive French economy
18 Feb 05 |  Business
Mixed signals from French economy
11 Feb 05 |  Business


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