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Jan 28, 2014

French jobless claims hit new record at over 3.3 million

Claims rose by 5.7 per cent over period of one year
    
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PARIS (Reuters) — French jobless claims rose a further 10,200 in December to hit a new record, smashing President Francois Hollande's hopes of keeping his pledge to start lowering unemployment by the end of 2013.

Labour Ministry data showed on Monday the number of people registered as out of work in mainland France reached 3,303,200 last month — the largest total since records have been kept, and representing an increase of 0.3 per cent over one month and 5.7 per cent over one year.

Hollande has struggled to kickstart activity in the euro zone's second-biggest economy and so keep an oft-repeated promise to get unemployment falling by the end of last year.

Acknowledging that more needed to be done to get companies hiring, Hollande this month announced a more business-friendly policy shift with plans for corporate tax breaks in exchange for hiring commitments.

He promised to phase out by 2017 some 30 billion euros ($45 billion CAD) in charges companies pay to finance family benefits on condition that they accept targets for hiring and investing.

With the jobless rate at nearly 11 per cent, Hollande's failure so far to tame unemployment has driven his ratings to record low levels for a president in modern France.

The Labour Ministry stressed that there had been a clear slow-down in the rise of unemployment over the course of 2013, with new jobless claims each month much lower towards the end of the year than they had been at the start.

Some 177,800 people joined the jobless register last year, down from 283,800 in 2012, the ministry said.

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