Sept. 26 - Three million people are now unemployed in France, the highest level since 1999. The news will come as a blow to President Francois Hollande, in the week where he is due to commit to the sharpest cut in France's public deficit in 30 years in the budget. Joanna Partridge reports.
Gilles is part of a growing group in France - the unemployed. He and 3 million others are now out of work. SOUNDBITE: Gilles, Unemployed French man, saying (French): "I don't want to write down that I'm unemployed. I write down my old job, a job I did in the past, I don't say I'm unemployed, because I'm ashamed of it." Joblessness is now at its highest level since 1999. It's risen for the past 16 months. Economists like Mathieu Plane from the French Economic Observatory warn worse is to come. SOUNDBITE: Mathieu Plane, Economist at French Economic Observatory (OFCE), saying (French): "We're likely to see a rise in unemployment. Unfortunately when you look at the figures, you can see long-term unemployment keeps increasing. Those who become unemployed, remain so as they get older, while heading towards instability and poverty." The figures will deal a blow to the government of new Socialist President Francois Hollande, who was elected on pledges to bring down unemployment. His plans have already been hit, with a long list of companies reportedly considering lay offs despite government appeals not to. Troubled carmaker Peugeot is expected to close a major plant, shedding 8000 jobs. And drugmaker Sanofi is still cutting 900 jobs - less than originally planned - but significant none the less. Economists say the government can only do so much. Turning the whole economy around by passing new labour laws will be a much bigger job, says UK-based economist Meghnad Desai. SOUNDBITE: Lord Meghnad Desai, Economist and Member of the House of Lords, saying (English): "France could, using the German model, get a partnership between the businesses and the trade unions and the government, and say that France, the French workers need to work harder, in a more concentrated way, to raise the productivity per hour, to have fewer holidays, to really try and cut out the peripheral costs of doing business, there are lots of obstacles to doing business." Calls for France to undertake more reforms come as President Hollande is due to announce his government's budget. He's expected to make the sharpest cut to France's public deficit in thirty years, but he may still disappoint reformers by doing so through tax hikes not spending cuts. Joanna Partridge, Reuters