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France's Hollande fails in bid to "reverse the curve" of unemployment as jobless figures rise

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PARIS - Embattled French president Francois Hollande's pledge to "reverse the curve" of unemployment last year has come back to haunt him as figures released Monday showed a further increase in the ranks of France's jobless.

Conservative opposition figures lept on the new report from the national employment office that showed the number of job seekers rose 0.3 per cent in December to 3.3 million. Hollande, whose popularity remains near record lows, made reversing the unemployment trend one of his key aims last year.

UMP party leader Jean-Francois Cope called for the dismissal of labour minister and Hollande confidante Michel Sapin.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault claimed the figures showed a "stabilization" in unemployment, but said that "we must go further and faster" against joblessness, which stands at 11.1 per cent.

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