With an increase of 45,000 in the number of unemployed in December 2008, the year closed with 216,000 more job-seekers than in 2007.

Month after month, the trend is being confirmed : the number of unemployed people registered with the ANPE (French National Employment Agency) has been continuously and significantly increasing since the end of the summer. In December, the figures – delayed last week due to the state statisticians’ demonstration against relocation to Metz — were unveiled yesterday morning by Christine Lagarde – and saw an increase of 45,000 seekers of full-time and indefinite-term employment (category 1).

At the end of 2008, there were 216,000 additional unemployed people compared to the previous year. Under these conditions and at this rate, the unemployment level – which has dropped below 8% in recent years – could reach the symbolic 10% mark during the course of 2009.

Paris (l’Humanite) After months of denial, Christine Lagarde now wants to appear “reasonable” by declaring that she would be “very surprised if we had positive growth in 2009” and that “we will most certainly go into recession at some point”.

The European Commission has been clearer in its predictions : it forecasts a 1.8% decline in France’s GDP in 2009, after a growth of 0.7% in 2008 ; it then expects a slight improvement in the situation, with a growth of 0.4% in 2010. According to Eurostat experts, France’s unemployment rate is expected to rise from 7.8% in 2008 to 9.8% in 2009 and 10.6% in 2010.

“It is more essential than ever that measures be taken to halt this social disaster that is sweeping our country. Nicolas Sarkozy is seriously failing to confront the issue with his inadequate and unsuitable economic recovery plan”, said Socialist Party leader Martine Aubry, in a press release.