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Business

French unemployment rising to record high

The jobless rate in France jumped to a fresh record high in April, in a blow to President Francois Hollande, who has pledged not to seek a second term in office if he fails to reverse the increase in unemployment.

The number of people out of work in eurozone's second largest economy climbed 26,000 in April to total 3.53 million, official data published by the country's labor ministry on Monday showed. The news comes as a blow to the French government, which was buoyed last month by better-than-expected quarterly growth figures.

France posted its fastest economic growth rate in two years in the first three months of 2015, with the economy expanding by 0.6 percent.

The economy received a boost from cheaper energy and food prices, a weak euro and a European Central Bank (ECB) policy of printing money to stimulate eurozone economies.

The strong growth figure prompted Finance Minister Michel Sapin to say that an annual expansion rate of 1.5 percent was "perfectly possible."

Many economists believe the country's economy needs to grow at that pace to create enough jobs and cut the country's high unemployment.

No success yet

Reducing unemployment is one of President Francois Hollande's main pledges, but more than halfway through his term, he is yet to see success on that front.

However, the labour ministry, which publishes the figures, said: "We will need a few months before the economic pick-up translates into jobs."

Of particular concern is the percentage of long-term unemployed, which has grown by more than 10 percent in a year.

According to Europe's statistics agency, Eurostat, unemployment rate in France hovered at about 10.6 percent in March this year, more than twice as much as in Germany, which recorded a jobless rate of 4.7 percent.

sri/uhe (AFP, dpa)

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