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France's unemployment rate has fallen below 10 percent for the first time since 2012, offering a boost to President Francois Hollande, who has staked his political future on creating more jobs.
The statistics body INSEE said unemployment on mainland France and its overseas territories fell to 9.9 percent in the second quarter, from 10.2 in the previous three months.
It was the lowest level since the third quarter of 2012, just after Hollande took office. The president has said he will not stand for re-election in 2017 unless there is a sustained fall in unemployment this year.
Unemployment in France has declined more slowly than in most leading European economies, as a gradual recovery in economic growth and job creation is offset by the number of young people entering the labor force every year.
The jobless rate for mainland France, excluding its overseas territories, dipped below 10 percent in the fourth quarter of last year and fell further to 9.6 percent in the three months to end-June.
Unemployment was down in all age categories, but the fall in youth unemployment was sharper: it fell 0.4 points to 24.3 percent, the lowest since 2014.
The percentage of long-term unemployed — those registered as out of work for over a year — remained stable at 4.3 percent, however.
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