PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande's approval rating slipped sharply in July, a poll showed on Monday, as enthusiasm for the Socialist leader suffered amid weak economic news, unfavourable headlines and a raft of heavy tax rises.
Hollande's popularity dropped five percentage points to 53 percent while that of his prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, was steady at 56 percent, pollster LH2 said in a survey published in left-leaning magazine Le Nouvel Observateur.
July has been Hollande's toughest month in office so far since he was elected in May, promising voters to bring down France's unemployment rate, stop the decline of its industrial sector and raise the income of low-earning workers.
It started with the announcement of tax rises worth 7.2 billion euros, singling out wealthy households and big corporations for hefty one-off levies, as Hollande's government sought to plug a revenue shortfall.
France's economic outlook grew bleaker, as growth ground to a halt in the first quarter, industrial output slumped more sharply than expected in May and the jobless total hit a new 13-year high.
Hollande presided met unions to discuss options for the job market, but the meeting was partly overshadowed by warnings that 75,000 jobs were likely to be cut in an upcoming round of industrial restructuring.
As LH2 conducted its poll, querying 966 people on July 12 and 13, newsapers were full of the news that carmaker Peugeot PSA (PEUP.PA) was about to shut a large factory in a Paris suburb.
Earlier in the month, an Ifop poll showed Hollande's popularity rating at 56 percent, down 7 percentage points since the previous poll. He has not enjoyed the honeymoon period of former President Nicolas Sarkozy.
"While his predecessor enjoyed a summer grace period after taking office, Francois Hollande is already confronted with his first decline in popularity," LH2 said in a statement accompanying its poll results.
Middle class voters were especially worried that promises of increased purchasing power and more jobs would not materialise, while men were confident than women, LH2 added.
Reporting By Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Robin Pomeroy