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[PARIS] The number of unemployed in France hit a new record in March at 3.51 million people, up 0.4 per cent from February, with young people especially hard hit, the Labour ministry said on Monday.
The news comes as the third anniversary of President Francois Hollande's election approaches. He has pledged not to seek re-election in 2017 if he does not succeed in reversing the trend of ever-increasing unemployment.
Labour Minister Francois Rebsamen in a statement chose to focus on the first quarter figure which he said showed the smallest increase over three months in jobless workers since early 2011. He said it was a sign that the government's measures "are beginning to bear fruit."
While the INSEE national statistics office has forecast more positive economic growth for France this year, it says it will be insufficient to drive down the country's stubbornly high unemployment.
The jobless rate was forecast to hit a 20-year record high of 10.2 percent in mainland France.