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Jobless figures up as French election nears
French joblessness up for 11th straight month as bleak economy weighs on presidential campaign
By The Associated Press

PARIS (AP) ' France's bleak economic outlook has returned to the forefront of the country's presidential campaign after new figures showed the number of job seekers rose for the 11th consecutive month in March.

Francois Hollande ' the Socialist front-runner in the May 6 election ' was quick to seize on the new data from the Labor Ministry showing the number of job seekers rose 0.6 percent last month to 2.88 million.

In an interview on French radio RTL on Friday, Hollande called job creation "the key issue" of the campaign that pits him against President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Sarkozy has blamed France's stubbornly high unemployment on the financial crisis that has swept up Europe.

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