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Hollande running out of time with jobless pledge
Can Hollande really reverse the upward trend in the number of jobless in France before the ned of 2013? Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Hollande running out of time with jobless pledge

Published on: 25 Oct 2013 08:45 CET

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Unemployment in France hit a new record high in September with the number of people officially registered as looking for work rising 60,000 to 3.29 million, official data showed.

The overall total of people looking for a job or for additional hours of employment rose to 4.84 million, figures from the labour ministry revealed.

French President Francois Hollande has pledged to reverse the trend of unemployment in France by the end of the year, amid increasingly pressing concerns over the economy and jobs.

“In terms of reversing the [upward] trend of unemployment numbers, we are not there yet,” said the president on Thursday.

“I will do everything for this goal to be achieved and the latest figures, if you look objectively, show that we are on are on our way,” he added.

Hollande says he we can only judge whether he has managed to maintain his promise in January 2014, when the figures for December 2013 will be released.

The increase in September was artificially high as official figures for the previous month - which registered the first drop in unemployment in over two years - were distorted by a technical glitch.

The ministry had initially announced that the number of registered jobseekers in August dropped by 50,000 to 3.23 million.

But it later revised the figure and said the number of jobseekers actually only fell between 22,000 and 29,000.

The mistake was blamed on a malfunction with mobile phone operator SFR that meant some jobseekers did not renew their registration because they did not receive reminders managed by the operator.

Stripping out the glitch, the number of job seekers went up by 10,000 in August and September, which the government said indicated that the upward trend in unemployment was slowing.

In its statement, the labour ministry pointed to an improvement in youth unemployment, saying the number of young job seekers had increased an average of 1.1 percent a month from January to April, but subsequently dropped 0.5 percent a month.

Overall, the total number of people looking for a job or just for additional hours of employment rose to 4.84 million in September.

"More than ever, the aim is to reverse the unemployment trend by the end of the year and in a lasting way," the ministry said - a target that labour minister Michel Sapin earlier said would be reached.

But Thierry Lepaon, head of the CGT union, said the government was "far from having won its bet."

"The government makes a lot of announcements on the issue but does not put anything of substance in place," he said in an interview with the Les Echos daily due out on Friday.

And junior economy minister Benoit Hamon pointed out that if there was no reversal, "the credibility of this government will be completely dented."

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