PARIS (Reuters) - France saw its steepest monthly fall ever in jobless claims in September, Labor Ministry data showed on Tuesday, offering rare good news for embattled French President Francois Hollande.

The number of people registered as out of work in mainland France fell by 66,300 in September, more than erasing a huge surge in August by 50,200.

The drop, down 1.9 percent over one month and 1.7 percent over one year, trimmed the jobless total to 3,490,500, bringing it below 3.5 million for the first time since January 2015.

The improvement offers Hollande a bit of relief on a front where he otherwise has made little progress since taking office in 2012, despite pledges to not run for a second term unless he steered unemployment onto a convincingly downward path.


The jobless total is still 569,000 higher than when he was elected in May 2012.

Hollande has dropped strong hints he might run for re-election in next April's president vote although polls show he would lag behind nearly all other well-known candidates.

A Cevipof poll released on Tuesday indicated that his popularity had hit four percent following the publication of a book last week by two journalists telling how he disparaged judges and some ministers in a dozens of frank interviews.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Ingrid Melander)

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