Unemployment rate: 9.3%
2011 GDP growth: 1.7%
Although unemployment in France stood at 9.3 percent through 2011, the rate has now hit 10 percent, marking a 13-year high.
The weak labor market in the euro zone’s second-biggest economy was one of the key factors that tipped the political scales in favor of socialist candidate Francois Hollande in May’s presidential election. Hollande repeatedly attacked the incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy, over the country’s industrial decline, highlighting the loss of 355,000 industrial jobs during Sarkozy's five years in office. In the months preceding the election, an OpinionWay survey showed that 40 percent of French workers believed their jobs were at risk.
The government has been struggling to avert several high-profile industrial closuresthat would put even more people out of work. Ferry operator SeaFrance, lingerie producer Lejaby and refineries owned by Switzerland’s Petrolplus are all threatened. In addition, French unions pressed President Hollandein May to prevent more than 45 other companies from shutting down production, which could threaten 90,000 jobs. Firms planning to close factories include PSA Peugeot Citroen, General Motors and retailer Conforama, according to the unions.
Pictured: Peugeot Citroen PSA employees and union members take part in a protest in Paris.