France's unemployment rate has fallen below 10 percent for the first time since 2012. As Sonia Legg reports, it's offered a boost to President Francois Hollande, who has staked his political future on creating more jobs.
An audience with the Pope after the killing of a French priest was a reminder that France has put security issues top of the agenda in recent months. The economy - in some people's eyes - taking a back seat. It will be a relief then for President Hollande that unemployment figures have fallen. For the March to June period they were below 10 percent for the first time sine 2012. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER, CEBR, VICKY PRYCE, SAYING: "That's quite good news, particularly given the problems France has gone through, We're now talking about the three months to June so it will be interesting to see what happens next because of course we have had rather bad data for the second quarter - France has been affected by strikes, bad weather and security problems." Hollande has staked his political future on creating more jobs. He said he wouldn't stand for re-election next year without a sustained fall in unemployment. And he needs all the help he can get - his popularity rating is dismal, with right-wing parties gaining ground. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER, CEBR, VICKY PRYCE, SAYING: "There is of course an issue about whether Marine Le Pen might do well in terms of France's position in the EU and of course also the negotiations with the UK." Unemployment rates have been gradually falling across much of the euro zone in recent months. But in France it's a slower process because of the number of young people entering the labour force. Hollande will welcome the fact that the fall in youth unemployment was even sharper. But it's still a big problem - nearly one in four young people are out of work.