French President Francois Hollande claimed Thursday to have met one of his key election pledges -- to reverse the upward trend in unemployment before the end of the year.
Hollande, who is under fierce pressure to tackle unemployment with polls showing his approval ratings the lowest of any president in modern French history, cited a fall in jobless figures as proof that the trend had been bucked.
"The reversal of the upward unemployment curve has now started," Hollande said in a statement after the release of official figures which showed the number of registered jobless in October fell by 20,500 from the previous month.
The number of registered jobseekers had risen to a record 3.29 million in September.
"An initial result has been achieved," Hollande said. "It conforms to the pledge I had set for the end of this year."
"The statistics published today confirm that the battle for employment can maybe be won," he said.
"It will take the necessary time, month after month, to reduce unemployment in France," he said, adding that he had not "forgotten that more than 3,270,000 people are still registered at employment centres."
He added: "Everything must therefore be done to support economic growth, especially through investments in companies."
Hollande and his government have repeatedly promised to reverse the rise by the end of the year despite the stagnation of the French economy, which shrunk by 0.1 percent in the third quarter.
But economists and other experts have said there is little chance unemployment will stop rising without sustained economic growth in the Eurozone's second economy.
Despite Hollande's claim, a new poll published as the latest unemployment figures were released showed that 80 percent of the French were disatisfied with the government's economic policies.
The poll by Tilder/LCI/Opinionway surveyed 964 persons on November 27 and 28. Only 19 percent said they were "satisfied" with the government's economic policies.
The far-right National Front said the "apparent fall is due to the repeated fudging of statistics."
"When you have sluggish growth and you see an accumulation of restructuring plans, a rise in redundancies, this is a gamble that is more than difficult to win," said Jean-Claude Mailly, the head of the FO union.