In France, presidential approval slips with unemployment climbing

Dec. 5, 2013 at 12:29 PM
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PARIS, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Unemployment is up in France, a government report showed Thursday, coinciding with low approval ratings for President Francois Hollande.

The government's data office, Insee, said the jobless rate had risen to 10.9 percent in the third quarter, up from 10.8 percent in the second, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The uptick counters Hollande's claim that "the inversion of the unemployment curve has begun," which the president made after data showed the number of unemployed workers in France shrank from September to October by 20,000.

Hollande has promised a turnaround by the end of the year, but in a BVA survey in late November only 6 percent of respondents indicated they believed Hollande would make good on that pledge. More than 50 percent indicated Hollande would not be able to meet that goal by 2017, when his first term ends.

In a serious blow to Hollande's pledge, the French economy contracted in the third quarter and a recent index of the manufacturing sector indicates it may contract again in the fourth quarter, which would mark the economy's return to a recession.

"Inverting the unemployment curve is still possible. ... We are now in a phase of stabilization that remains very fragile," said Barclays' European Chief Economist Philippe Gudin.

"The real question is whether there can be a recovery in economic growth. In the eurozone, the growth recovery is weak and in France there is the added uncertainty linked to the political situation," he said.

Several polls show Hollande's approval rating is at an all-time low for any French president in the first term in office, the Journal reported.

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