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French Jobless Claims Rise to Highest Since 1997 in January

French jobless claims rose for the 21st straight month as the economy failed to grow and the Labor Ministry changed how it calculates its data.

The number of people actively looking for work rose by 43,900, or 1.4 percent, in January to 3.169 million, the ministry said today in an e-mailed statement from Paris. Without the new accounting method, the number rose by 22,800 or 0.7 percent to 3.148 million.

Economists predicted an increase of 17,500, according to the median of four forecasts gathered by Bloomberg News.

With the changes in calculation, the increase brings jobless claims to their highest since July 1997. Under the previous way of counting, it’s the highest since October 1997.

The European Commission last week estimated that the French economy will grow 0.1 percent this year, compared with a government estimate of 0.8 percent that several ministers had already said France would have to be cut. The French economy was unchanged in 2012.

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