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French unemployment hits new record high

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French unemployment hits new record high
Photo: AFP
18:45 CEST+02:00
Unemployment in France hit a new record in September, with official statistics published Friday showing 3.43 million people claimed jobless benefits.

The figures showed a rise of 19,200 people joining the jobless queue and come at a symbolically bad time for beleaguered President Francois Hollande, at the midway point in his mandate.

Since his election in May 2012, unemployment has swelled by more than half a million people.

Labour Minister Francois Rebsamen argued that the government's attempts to reform the labour market needed more time.

"The reforms need time to take effect," he said.

The government has introduced a much-vaunted but highly disputed "Responsibility Pact", which will cut social charges for businesses by €40 billion ($51 billion) in exchange for them creating 500,000 jobs by 2017.

Given the parlous state of France's budget deficit, which is expected to remain above European Union limits until 2017, Hollande plans to finance the tax breaks with 50 billion euros in public spending cuts.

This has proved highly unpopular on the left flank of Hollande's ruling Socialist Party, which sees it as a gift to business.

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