November 24, 2016 / 5:16 PM / 3 years ago

French jobless total dips, setting stage for Hollande election bid

French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech on social contracts of employment at the end of the Conference on the social impact investment at the Ministry of Economy in Paris, France, November 24, 2016. REUTERS/Lionel Bonaventure/Pool

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s jobless total eased back slightly in October to a two year low, Labour Ministry data showed on Thursday, giving support to President Francois Hollande’s pledge to turn the labor market around.

With the latest fall in the jobless tally, Thursday’s report sets the stage for Hollande to launch a bid for re-election ahead of a mid December deadline despite doubts in his own party about his chances of winning.

The deeply unpopular Socialist leader has said he would not run in next year’s presidential election unless unemployment started falling convincingly.

The Labour Ministry said the number of people registered as unemployed in mainland France stood at 3,478,800, down 0.3 percent over a month and 2.8 percent over one year.

That brought the total to its lowest level since October 2014.

Hollande - whose popularity rating fell as low as 4 percent in one recent opinion poll - is expected to say near the end of the first week of December if he intends to seek another five-year term.

Just minutes before the release of the long anticipated data, Hollande told reporters: “We have fought this battle for several years, and it’s now bearing fruit.”

Despite a choppy but steady improvement in the jobless numbers in recent months, the jobless total stands 630,100 higher now than when Hollande took office in May 2012.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas and Brian Love; Editing by Michel Rose

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