President Francois Hollande said on Friday that unemployment was stabilising in France despite a rise in jobless claims in September, as the government struggles to reverse rising job losses before year-end.
Jobless claims rose last month by the highest margin since the depths of the financial crisis in early 2009, hitting a new record and undermining Hollande's pledge of reversing the rise in unemployment this year.
Hollande said the data, which officials attributed largely to the inclusion of some unemployed omitted from August figures due to a technical glitch, concealed a slow-down in the number of new people registering as unemployed.
"There is a clear deceleration compared to what we have been seeing for year, where unemployment was rising by 30,000 or 40,000 (jobless claims) per year," he said at a news conference in Brussels.
Without the glitch distorting monthly figures, data would have shown jobless claims had risen by 5,000 in both August and September for a total of 10,000, which represented fewer job losses compared to the trend, Hollande added.
Hollande has staked his economic credentials on managing to stop rising unemployment this year. Most economists consider this unlikely, but the government is confident it can use state-subsidised jobs schemes to stimulate hiring.
In a sign of continued gloom carmaker Peugeot's Aulnay-sous Bois factory near Paris, which is due to close this year as part of plans to cut some 10,000 jobs across France, produced its last-ever car before the shutdown early on Friday.
With unemployment stuck at 11 percent, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told the Ouest France regional daily that the government had no plans to abandon its year-end objective.
Hollande said the government would not seek to draw conclusions about its jobs policy before December.
"We're not there yet," he said.