Feature

France's 'crippling' strikes: By the numbers

The protests have brought the French economy to its knees, and all over a 24-month extension of the retirement age

The strikes that have "crippled" France for the past two weeks look to be winding down now that the government has approved President Nicolas Sarkozy's controversial pension-plan overhaul, which triggered the unrest. Even so, another general strike on Thursday is grounding flights, halting trains, and shutting down gas stations. (Watch a Russia Today report about the strikes.) Here are some of the numbers behind the protesters' two-week battle with the French government over pension reform:

1.1 million
Number of people who took to the streets to protest Sarkozy's bill, according to the police

3.5 million
Number of people who took to the streets to protest Sarkozy's bill, according to the labor unions

379
Number of schools shut down by students skipping class to join protests

10,000 tons
Amount of garbage piled up on the streets of Marseilles as of Oct. 26. Garbage collectors were on strike for two weeks.

12
Number of oil refineries closed at the height of the protests. There are only 12 refineries in the country.

5
Number of oil refineries that reopened following government approval of the bill

3,000
Number of gas stations reported to have run dry during the oil refinery strikes

5
Number of days during which France's labor unions have held general strikes, effectively shutting down the country. Several industry sectors have held rolling strikes. A sixth general strike is proposed for Nov. 6.

5 percent
Share of French workers who are members of a labor union

$560 million
Amount the strikes and protests are costing the French economy each day

69 percent
Share of the French population opposing President Sarkozy's pension bill

29 percent
Sarkozy's approval rating, the lowest ever recorded for a French president

9.7 percent
France's jobless rate, almost exactly the same as that of the U.S. (9.6 percent)

62
The minimum age at which French government employees can now retire. Sarkozy's bill raised it two years from 60. Workers will not be able to get a full pension until they turn 67, up from 65.

$14.7 billion
Current shortfall in France's state pension fund. One out of 10 pensions is paid for through government borrowing.

$68 billion
Projected shortfall in French pension funds by 2020 without a change in policy

$500 billion
Current shortfall in California's public pension fund

$1 trillion to $3 trillion
Current shortfall in combined U.S. state pensions, according to a study by the University of Chicago

Sources: Daily Mail, Business Week, Christian Science Monitor, CNN, Wall Street Journal, Reuters

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