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French unemployment rises for 27th month, critics credit subsidized jobs

PARIS -- The number of jobseekers in France climbed for the 27th consecutive month in July despite a moderate return to economic growth in the first half of the year, the labor ministry said Tuesday.

The number of jobseekers reached 3.28 million people, up 6,300 people from June, but the ministry said that the gain had slowed in the period to a 0.2-percent rise from the previous month and 10 percent year-on-year.

The data was “an encouragement to keep to the road chosen,” French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said.

But France's right-wing opposition as well as trade unions dismissed the upbeat analysis, attributing any slowdown to subsidized state jobs designed to beef up the numbers.

The leftist union CGT urged the government to “abandon false remedies” while the UMP party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy denounced a cynical “statistic manipulation.”

Earlier in August, the finance ministry announced a modest recovery in economic growth of 0.5 percent that it hailed as an encouraging sign of a much needed turnaround.

But despite an end to recession, the unemployment trend has yet to be reversed — a key target of President Francois Hollande, who hopes to achieve this by the end of the year.

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