French Jobless Claims Increase to Highest in More Than a Decade

French jobless claims climbed to the highest in more than a decade as declining business confidence discouraged hiring.

The number of people actively looking for work at the end of October rose by 34,400, or 1.2 percent, to 2.815 million, the Labor Ministry said today in an e-mailed statement. That’s the highest since January 2000. The number of jobless was up 4.9 percent from a year earlier.

The increase is the latest sign that France’s two-year-old recovery is stalling as concern mounts that Europe’s sovereign debt crisis will take its toll on the real economy.

“They won’t be good and everyone knows they are not going to be good because we are in a crisis that we haven’t managed to get out of and that is getting worse,” Labor Minister Xavier Bertrand said in an interview with RTL Radio yesterday when he was asked about the job numbers. “Companies face financing problems, and many companies are saying there is no point investing and hiring because everyone is saying things are so bad.”

The French economy will grow 0.3 percent next year after expanding 1.6 percent this year, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said today. French business confidence fell for a fifth month in November, according to national statistics office Insee.

Stalling growth and rising joblessness are threatening President Nicolas Sarkozy as he prepares for the May 2012 election, with polls showing him running behind Socialist Party challenger Francois Hollande.

To contact the reporters on this story: Gregory Viscusi in Paris at gviscusi@bloomberg.net; Mark Deen in Paris at markdeen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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