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France

French joblessness hits 13-year high

Unemployment in France has reached third-quarter levels not seen in well over a decade. President Francois Hollande is facing an uphill battle to reverse the trend, with youth joblessness a particular concern.

France's unemployment rate climbed to 10.3 percent in the third quarter of 2012, the highest level logged since the same quarter in 1999, the national statistics office INSEE reported on Thursday.

In a quarter-on-quarter comparison, joblessness rose only by a marginal 0.1 percent, bringing the total number of people out of work to 2.83 million.

Youth unemployment climbed more markedly, with the jobless rate among under-25's soaring to 24.9 percent in the third quarter, up from 23.6 percent in the previous three months. INSEE said there were now 671,000 jobless youths in mainland France in line with measurement criteria of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

Slow impact of reforms

Socialist President Francois Hollande warned that unemployment was likely to rise for yet another year, before the effects of labor market reforms were felt.

But with the eurozone's sovereign debt crisis showing little sign of abating, Hollande's election promise to reverse the current job market trend could be difficult to realize even in the medium term.

Paris is under pressure from voters and unions to combat massive job cuts across all main industries. Curbing public spending and raising taxes to help slash debt has increased France's creditworthiness on financial markets with borrowing costs dropping noticeably, but the situation on the labor market continues to deteriorate, as Thursday's figures showed.

hg/msh (dpa, Reuters)