France's jobless total rises sharply in July

Job hunters looking at job ads in the job centre The number of people looking for a job in France has climbed to more than 3.4 million

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The number of people looking for work in France rose 0.8% in July to a new record of 3,424,400.

The sharp rise confirms a longer term trend with the number of jobless rising 4.3% over the last year.

President Francois Hollande has promised to kick start growth and create jobs.

But the economy has floundered, prompting a revolt against austerity by three left-wing ministers. Mr Hollande replaced them and named a new cabinet.

Jobs pledge

Prime Minister Manuel Valls had already warned that the latest figures for jobseekers would not look good.

However, he reached out to French business on Wednesday with a promise to speed up reform.

"France needs you," he told the country's main employers' union, Medef. "I love companies!"

Manuel Valls addresses Medef employers' union (27 August) Manuel Valls was given a standing ovation from France's business elite
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Analysis from the BBC's Lucy Williamson in Paris

The latest French figures are striking even in the recent, bleak economic landscape: the number of unemployed in France rose to almost 3.5 million people last month - that's a rise of 0.8%.

President Hollande is struggling to deliver the new jobs he promised voters here and his popularity is plummeting as a result. Less than 20% now trust him to turn things around.

After a high-profile reshuffle of the cabinet earlier this week, the new economy minister arrived for work today arm-in-arm with the finance minister: a public gesture to voters that months of in-fighting over policy is now in the past.

President Hollande has pinned his chances for growth - and re-election - on a mixture of austerity cuts and tax breaks. He's now got the cabinet behind him, but there are no signs yet that the policy is working.

For a man seen more as a mediator than a maverick, these are high stakes indeed.

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Mr Valls tendered his government's resignation on Monday after Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg criticised a German "obsession" with austerity measures that he said were strangling growth.

Asked by President Hollande immediately to form a new government, Mr Valls replaced Mr Montebourg with Emmanuel Macron, a former banker and economic adviser to the president.

President Francois Hollande has pledged to create jobs and boost the economy by cutting 40bn euros (£32bn) from companies' tax bills.

But so far unemployment remains above 10% and growth has stalled.

The government's strategy for boosting the economy, the "Responsibility Pact", entails cuts to social charges paid by companies which would be funded by 50bn euros of cuts in public spending.

Romain Perez, from the Terra Nova think tank in Paris said the increase in the number of people seeking work was not surprising.

"Some people expect with a new minister of economy, Emmanuel Macron, who is younger and eager to reform, there may be positive signals sent. But we will see what happens."

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