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French unemployment over three million, labour minister says

Reuters/Philippe Desmazes/Pool

French unemployment has risen to over three million, Labour Minister Michel Sapin said on Wednesday ahead of the publication of official statistics this evening. Consumer confidence has fallen to 85, compared to 100 at the end of last year, according to the national statistics institute, Insee.

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“Yes it’s bad, it’s bound to be bad,” Sapin told France 2 TV, adding that he expects the jobless figure to be over the “symbolic but important” three million mark.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Insee will publish official figures at 6.00 pm Wednesday.

Consumer confidence slipped two points in September, the institute revealed on Wednesday morning, concluding that consumers were “clearly pessimistic … about the future”.

Confidence has slid throughout the year, reaching 90 in June, 87 in July and 85 in September.

Between January 1987 and December 2011, when unemployment was lower, it averaged 100.

According to the eurozone stability pact, France is committed to reduce its deficit from about 4.5 per cent of GDP to three per cent in 2013, a measure that may further depress demand.

That means raising 30 billion euros from cuts and taxes in the budget that the government is to unveil on Friday.

The French central bank predicts that the French economy will contract by 0.1 per cent in the third quarter of this year after experiencing zero growth in the first half of the year.

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