French September Jobless Figures to Rise after Computer Error in August

PARIS--France's Labor Minister warned Wednesday that the country's jobless figures will show an increase in September as there was an error in the data for August because of a computer bug which prevented the inclusion of many jobseekers from the statistics.

Employment figures for September, scheduled for release Thursday, "won't be good for a very simple reason: as you well know, in August there was a statistical incident related to a bug at SFR, which has increased the decline in August and will boost the increase in September," Michel Sapin said Wednesday in an interview with local radio Europe1.

SFR, a mobile phone operator owned by Vivendi SA (VIV.FR), said last month there had been a problem in the sending of text and vocal messages used by the unemployment agency to remind job seekers to update their status. As a result of the bug, many unemployed people were removed from the statistics, the labor ministry said.

The ministry now estimates that the number of category A job seekers--registered job seekers who are fully unemployed- -fell in August by between 22,000 and 29,000--or between 0.7% and 0.9%--and not by 50,000, or 1.5%, as officially reported last month.

The reported decline in the jobless figures in August was a shot in the arm for President Francois Hollande, who has pledged to halt the rising unemployment rate by the end of 2013.

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