PARIS, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- French President Francois Hollande has announced a $2.18 billion plan to combat France's high unemployment rate after declaring a state of economic emergency Monday.
The plan would offer $2,179 hiring bonuses to companies with 250 or fewer employees that hire young people for six months or more. It would also provide for vocational training for 500,000 unemployed people, with an emphasis on tech and environmental fields.
France 24 reported the plan, unveiled Monday, was not received well. A poll by Odexa found 77 percent of those surveyed did not believe the plan would nudge France's 10 percent unemployment rate downwards. Jean-Christophe Lagarde, head of the centrist Union of Democrats and Independents party, slammed the measures on France's Radio Classique.
"It is an insult to those people who live the reality of being unemployed," he said. "The unemployed are not mere statistics that can be massaged for political benefit."
Conservative lawmaker Guillaume Larrivé similarly lambasted the plan in an interview with RFI on Monday. "What planet are Hollande and his government living on if they think a check of 2,000 euros is going to make the blindest bit of difference?" he said.
Larrivé also attacked Hollande for failing to propose changes to France's strict employment laws. Under current labor-friendly laws, employers pay high taxes and social costs when they bring on any new employee. Firing an employee on a permanent contract is difficult.
Hollande has promised not to run for re-election next year if he cannot bring France's unemployment numbers down. The BBC reported there is little expectation that Hollande's plan will go very far toward achieving that goal.