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French unemployment hits new record

Philippe Huguen, AFP | France's record-high unemployment rate is a blow to President François Hollande's hopes of a second term in office.

France’s unemployment rate rose 1.1 percent in the month of February, pushing jobless numbers to a record 3.591 million people, the Labour Ministry said Thursday.

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The monthly spike is the sharpest since September 2013 and follows a slight dip in January that had raised hopes of an end to years of surging unemployment.

It comes as students and trade unions staged new protests in cities across France on Thursday against government plans to reform the labour market.

Blaming France's 'bloated' labour code
Blaming France's 'bloated' labour code

France’s Socialist government says the reform will help create jobs by introducing greater flexibility in the labour market.

But the majority of unions say it will introduce precarious working conditions and pave the way for an end to France’s cherished 35-hour work week.

President François Hollande, whose term ends in May 2017, has said he will not run for re-election if he fails to secure a “meaningful” fall in the jobless rate.

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