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France's Hollande Launches Push to Curb Unemployment

A job seeker speaks to a clerk at an Employment Center in Marseille, southern France, Feb. 24, 2015. Record-high unemployment started dragging French President Francois Hollande's popularity down just a few months after his election in 2012.

French President Francois Hollande announced a $2.2 billion job-creation push Monday as he sought to save his 2017 re-election chances.

Rising unemployment, at an 18-year high of 10.6 percent, has dogged Hollande throughout his presidency and is a reminder to voters that he has failed to live up to promises to put the jobless rate on a convincingly downward path, which he set as a precondition for running in the next presidential election.

Hollande said France is in "a state of economic emergency" and needed new measures urgently, but he promised that they would not come from tax rises.

One billion euros will be spent on training for unemployed people.

"These two billion euros will not be financed through extra taxes of any kind. They will be financed by savings," Hollande said.

About 3.5 million people in the eurozone's second-largest economy are unemployed, and Hollande, a Socialist, said France needed to "increase the pace of reforms" and innovation to get people back to work.

He promised to push ahead with business-friendly changes, including a cap on the amount dismissed workers can claim in labor courts, something employers have long called for.

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