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French unemployment hits new high despite reforms

Joblessness in the eurozone's second-largest economy, France, has surged to a new high. The latest figures left government officials wondering why recent reforms had done nothing to ease the plight of the labor market.

The number of registered unemployed in France surged again to a new high in May, the Labor Ministry announced Thursday.

It said another 24,800 people were added to the unemployment figure, marking a new record of 3.388 million, and a 0.7-percent increase month on month. In a year-on-year comparison, May unemployment went up by 4.1 percent.

"These numbers are not good," the ministry said in a statement. "They reflect weaker-than-expected growth in the first half."

Timid reforms

The bad news came despite recent endeavors by the government of Socialist President Francois Hollande to revive the labor market by investing billions of euros into creating employment, particularly for young people across the country.

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The government's strategic planning think tank released a report earlier this week, telling Paris that bolder reforms backed by a cross-party social consensus could reverse France's relative decline and transform it into a dynamic economy over the next decade.

The study called on the government to finally "embrace globalization and European integration," which goes against the grain of widespread protectionism and National Front nationalism.

hg/sgb (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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