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France

French jobless rate declines for third month

As France's presidential elections approach, for a third straight month the unemployment rate has fallen. According to labor ministry data, at last count 9 percent of the workforce, or 3.45 million, are jobless.

French Labor Minister Myriam El Khomri presented a seemingly positive trend on Monday, showing unemployment falling further, just four months out from France's next presidential election.

November's official jobless count was 31,800 less than in October and, in year-on-year terms, down 3.4 percent from France's jobless level in November 2015.

Khomri said the three-month fall represented the first sustained decline of that duration since February 2008.

High unemployment has gripped France since the global financial crisis of 2008/2009, defying the promise made in 2012 by Socialist President Francois Hollande that the trend would be reverse during his term.

Instead, French joblessness reached new highs, including early this year.

French-German comparisons

Comparative figures for October compiled by the European statistical agency Eurostat indicated that France had significantly higher joblessness among the EU's leading economies. France's quota was 9.7 percent compared to 5.8 percent in Germany.

Last month, German federal labor agency chief Frank-Jürgen Weise forecast a further light easing in German unemployment in 2017 to an average of 2.62 million job seekers.

Germany's workforce, measured in terms of regular salaried positions, lay at 31.7 million in September. The total number of active earners, including self-employed, was 43.8 million.

Among recently arrived refugees, 34,000 had found jobs, said the agency. A further 268,000 had attended language and vocational preparation courses.

Across the 28-nation EU, some 20 million people are registered as unemployed, amounting to 8.6 percent of the workforce. Youth unemployment rates are significantly higher, especially in Greece, Spain and Italy.

ipj/kl (dpa, Reuters)

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