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Working poor population rises in France

Posted April. 03, 2012 00:45,   


Though France considered economically more stable than Greece or Spain, which took the brunt of the European fiscal crisis, the number of working poor in France is growing, The New York Times reported Sunday.

The working poor refers to people who remain in poverty though they work hard because of low pay or temporary status. The working poor population has increased in countries considered better off in Europe, including France, because the number of non-regular jobs paying low wages has increased in the wake of the fiscal crisis.

Experts say the trend has intensified because politicians are supporting the hiring of temporary workers to lower the high unemployment rate. According to data from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, half of all EU jobs created last year were temporary positions.

Amid the rise in the working poor population, more of them who cannot afford housing are living at camp sites, tents or mobile homes in France.

Jean-Paul Fitoussi, an economics professor at L’Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris, said, “The working poor are living in the same conditions as in the 19th century. They can’t pay for heating, they can’t pay for their children’s clothes."

Problems with the working poor are also serious among people with regular jobs as well as temps. Bruno Duboscq, 55, director of human resources management at a small company in Paris, lives at a parking lot near Château de Vincennes Parc, a 12-century castle in eastern Paris. He moved to the site three years ago because he could not afford high rent.

“There are many people, especially young people, living in their cars here,” Duboscq said. “They are not well paid, it’s hard to afford an apartment, and the price of everything has risen considerably.”

Half of all employed people in France earn less than 25,000 U.S. dollars per year. Constantly rising living expenses and low pay are forcing them to campsites.

Jean, 51, who would only give his first name, was another member of the working poor who is living at the castle behind the parking lot where Duboscq is living, is an electrical engineer also lives outdoors at the park. “I never dreamed I would be here,” he said.

Matthieu, 31, also said “People have no dreams in France at present,” looking at campers flocking to the site one after another and expressing a deep sense of despair.