In France, An Economy Torn In Two

As the split between rich and poor widens, unrest swells

Overnight, France's silent masses of unemployed have become a powerful political force. Rallying outside public offices by day and setting bonfires to dramatize night vigils in front of benefits offices, they are riveting international attention on the growing gap between France's rich and poor. The stark reality of 1 million long-term jobless getting a paltry $350 a month in benefits has jolted a nation that prides itself on compassion and a comprehensive social net. "While the country is getting richer and richer, insecurity is growing wider and wider," says Ahcen Meharga, a 29-year-old social worker in Paris who was laid off last October.

To continue reading this article you must be a Bloomberg Professional Service Subscriber.