French Unemployment Rises to Near Record in Hollande Setback

  • Hollande says job creation is requirement for re-election
  • More than 3.6 million people are looking for work in France

French unemployment rose to near a record high in the third quarter, the latest sign that President Francois Hollande is struggling to meet a pledge to create jobs.

Unemployment climbed to 10.6 percent in the three months through September from 10.4 percent the previous quarter, national statistics office Insee said in an e-mailed statement. That’s in contrast to Germany, where the jobless rate fell to a record-low 6.3 percent in November.

While jobless claims have been steadily climbing for the past four years to reach a record 3.6 million in October, Hollande has been able to point to France’s growing population as part of the reason. The unemployment rate, by contrast, has stayed below the all-time high reached in 1997.

The third-quarter increase now leaves unemployment at its highest in 18 years and just shy of the the 10.7 percent record. While the economy is showing some signs of sustained growth for the first time since Hollande took power in May 2012, the labor-market numbers represent a political defeat for the Socialist president, who has said that job creation is a condition for his own re-election in 2017.

Separately on Thursday, Markit Economics said its composite manufacturing and services gauge fell to 51 in November from 52.6 in October. While that’s above the key 50 level indicating expansion, it lower than the initial estimate and signals the slowest growth of private sector output since August.

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