Page last updated at 11:10 GMT, Monday, 27 April 2009 12:10 UK

French unemployment 'rises again'

Workers protesting against a factory closure earlier this month
Unions have held a number of protests about high unemployment

French unemployment rose between 60,000 and 70,000 last month, Economy Minister Christine Lagarde has warned.

Speaking before the release of the official data for March, she said the figure was still an improvement on the 79,900 who lost their jobs in February.

She said that while "not good news", the latest data was "not catastrophic".

France's unemployment rate is currently running at 8.2%, one of the highest in Western Europe. It is expected to go above 10% by the end of this year.

Despite passing a 26bn euro ($34bn; £23bn) economic stimulus package in February, France remains mired in recession.

The government expects the economy to shrink 2.5% this year, but hopes to see it recover in 2010.

Young people have been hit particularly hard by the downturn, with unemployment among the under-25s reaching 21.2% at the end of last year.

French trade unions have organised a number of protests to complain about the government's handling of the economy and to demand more help for the jobless.

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