PARIS — The French government wants companies to hire young people so much that it's offering to pick up the tab.
The new Socialist president, Francois Hollande, told his Cabinet Wednesday that he wants to wage a war on unemployment and unveiled a plan for the government to pay most of the salaries of tens of thousands of young people hired next year.
Unemployment in France is 10 percent, but nearly 23 percent for those under the age of 25. That's an imbalance that many European countries are struggling with: In Spain, youth unemployment is over 52 percent; it's 34 percent in Italy.
European employers are especially reluctant to hire young people because restrictive labor laws make it hard for companies to lay off employees. What's more, in France, young people are typically required to do a series of often unpaid internships before landing a full-time job or can only manage to get short-term contracts for years on end.
But few countries are approaching the problem in the way that France is.
nder France's new plan, companies that hire a person between 16 and 25 for at least a year will only have to pay as little as 25 percent of the salary. The government hopes to create 100,000 of these "contracts for the future" next year and another 50,000 in 2014. It has promised to continue paying its share of the employee's salary for three years.