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[PARIS] France's jobless total fell by 19,900 in April, declining for a second month in a row and offering a boost to President Francois Hollande in his fight to bring down unemployment.
The number of registered jobseekers in mainland France stood at 3,511,100 at the end of last month, down 0.6 per cent over one month and by the same rate over one year, the Labour Ministry said in its monthly jobless report.
The ministry said it was only the second time in five years France had seen two consecutive months of declines after the steepest monthly fall in 15 years in April, offering evidence that the labour market may at last be turning a corner.
Mr Hollande has said that he would not run for a second term in presidential elections due in just under a year unless he made headway against bringing down unemployment, which has been stuck at about 10 per cent for four years.
The deeply unpopular leader aims to fire up job creation with a labour reform his Socialist government is forcing through parliament in the face of opposition from leftwing lawmakers - including from within their own party - and waves of street protests and strikes.
The hardline CGT union has dug in against the reform to make hiring and firing easier with refinery, port and railway strikes.
Despite the improvement in the headline jobless tally, the Labour Ministry's breakdown of the numbers showed much of the improvement came from people dropping out of the count because they had failed to update their job-seeking status.
Also the average time people spent unemployed reached a new record of 583 days.