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French jobless down January

PARIS, Feb 27 (AFP) – The number of jobless in France fell sharply by 1.1 percent in January after a difficult year in 2003, but the reduction was partly due to technical factors, according to the social affairs ministry.

The number of job-seekers immediately available for full-time work, which is used as an official barometer, dropped by 27,600 last month to a total of 2,418,900 people.

Over a year the number of unemployed was up by 4.2 percent.

The unemployment rate as calculated by the International Labour Office was down by 0.1 points at 9.6 percent, the ministry said Thursday.

But the drop, after a rise in the number of job-seekers by nearly 140,000 in 2003, did not appear to be the definitive improvement much awaited by the government.

The social affairs ministry said: “The drop in the number of job-seekers is essentially due to departures through absence of controls, more numerous than usual, which can be partly explained by changes to the methods of compensation.”

New rules for unemployment benefit came into effect on January 1, and it was believed that thousands of jobless no longer declared themselves to the authorities.


                                                              Subject: France news