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New jobless record for Hollande's anniversary

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New jobless record for Hollande's anniversary
People demonstrate on December 6, 2014 in the streets of Paris against precarity and unemployment. Photo: AFP
09:41 CEST+02:00
Three years into his presidency at the Elysée Palace and François Hollande's bid to bring down unemployment shows no sign of success as the number of French people out of work hits a new record high.

The number of unemployed in France hit a new record in March at 3.51 million people, up 0.4 percent from February, with young people especially hard hit, the Labour ministry said on Monday.

The news comes as the third anniversary of President Francois Hollande's election approaches. He has pledged not to seek re-election in 2017 if he does not succeed in reversing the trend of ever-increasing unemployment.

Labour Minister Francois Rebsamen in a statement chose to focus on the first quarter figure which he said showed the smallest increase over three months in jobless workers since early 2011. He said it was a sign that the government's measures "are beginning to bear fruit."

While the INSEE national statistics office has forecast more positive economic growth for France this year, it says it will be insufficient to drive down the country's stubbornly high unemployment.

The jobless rate was forecast to hit a 20-year record high of 10.2 percent in mainland France.

President Hollande has promised that he won't seek re-election unless unemployment has fallen by the time the 2017 presidential election comes around.

He famously promised to halt the rise in jobless, which began long before his presidency started, by the end of 2013. But nearly 18 months on and the figures continue to rise.

Hollande has launched a two-pronged attack to tackle joblessness and push for growth.

The first is known as the Responsibility Pact, a series of tax cuts for businesses in return for job creation.

The second is a package of reforms aimed at opening up France's closed economy, including extending the number of Sundays per year when stores can open their doors.

The government has forecast at 1.0 percent in 2015, rising slightly to 1.5 percent in 2016 and 2017.

Like other countries in the euro area, France is hoping the European Central Bank's stimulus programme will also help boost growth.

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