This graphs shows the evolution of youth (15-24) unemployment rate* in France under different governments (red lines indicate change of governments). From the 1960s to the early 1990s, the rate increased significantly; thereafter it fluctuated between 20 and 27%.
The Jospin government successfully reduced it to around 20% partly as a result of the “Nouveaux Services Emplois Jeunes” (NSEJ). With the unfolding of the crisis, the youth unemployment rate rose from under 20% in 2008 to around 23% in 2009.
It remains to be seen whether the current government will prove able to address this ongoing issue. French right wing parties have not in the past been effective in resolving this problem. Partisanship alone cannot account for governments’ failure to tackle unemployment; indeed the current Socialist Zapatero government has seen its youth unemployment rate reach 38% in 2009.
What is however clear is that the current focus on cost containment and rebalancing of fiscal budget seems to be at odds with the imperative to channel more resources in order to fully address youth (and indeed overall) unemployment in Europe.
*Data extracted from the OECD stats website