French jobless rate eases to 9.1 percent

The French unemployment rate fell slightly by 0.1 percentage points to 9.1 percent in the second quarter of 2011 from the level in the first quarter, official data showed on Thursday.

However, the latest data on the number of people seeking work is at a high level.

The quarterly rate fell by 0.2 percentage points on a 12-month comparison, and 2.58 million people were unemployed, the data showed on the basis of International Labour Organisation methods of calculation.  

The national statistics office INSEE, which published the figures of registered unemployed people, estimated that 3.3 million people who have no job would like to work.  

Before the financial crisis, the French unemployment rate had fallen to the lowest level for 25 years to 7.2 percent in the first half of that year, but after the crisis it surged to a high point of 9.6 percent in the last quarter of 2009.  

Labour Minister Xavier Bertrand hopes that the rate will fall to below 9.0 percent by the end of the year.  

But the latest data on the number of people seeking work show a sharp rise for three months in a row to the highest level for 11 years at the end of July when 2.756 million people were registered as unemployed.

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