France's Fraying Social Safety Net

Soup kitchens and pawnshops now have a middle-class clientele
Photograph by Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP/Getty Images

On a cold day in January, Inaya, an unemployed former Ikea manager, waited with about 100 people in a dingy hall at Crédit Municipal de Paris to pawn a Gucci bag and some jewelry. Sporting a tweed jacket and dark pants, she was tapping the broker for cash for the first time as her unemployment benefits dwindled after two years out of a job. “There’s no work out there,” she said, declining to give her last name. “It’s hard to get out of this crisis.”

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