French Jobless Claims Drop for First Time in More Than Two Years

French jobless claims dropped for the first time in more than two years, providing a boost to President Francois Hollande, who’d promised to reverse the trend before year-end.

The number of people actively looking for work fell by 50,000, or 1.5 percent, to 3.24 million in August, the labor ministry said today in an e-mailed statement.

The first decline since April 2011 reflects Hollande’s effort to bolster growth and employment by slowing the pace of deficit reduction and sponsoring youth-employment initiatives. The Socialist president has repeatedly vowed to stop the rise in unemployment this year.

“We’re very close to turning the unemployment curve,” Hollande said on TF1 television on Sept. 15. “Growth is beginning to return.”

Hollande’s government today said it expects a budget deficit of 4.1 percent of gross domestic product this year and 3.6 percent next year.

To be sure, jobless claims remain close to the record 3.29 million set in August and are up 7.3 percent from a year earlier. Hollande’s approval rating dropped 5 points this month to a record low of 23 percent, according to an Ifop poll published earlier this week.

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