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PARIS: The number of unemployed people in France fell to its lowest in almost ten years in late 2021, official data showed Wednesday, adding to a picture of a strong coronavirus rebound for the eurozone's second-largest economy.

At 3.3 million on average in October-December, unemployment was at its lowest level since the summer of 2012, according to labour ministry figures.

A 12.6 percent fall compared with the same period in 2020 more than made up for the joblessness surge during the first year of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

"It seems like business chiefs are happy to hire whatever happens, and don't give the impression of unease you'd usually have on the way out of a recession or a crisis," commented Philippe Waechter, chief economist at Ostrum Asset Management.

Last year "was an exceptional year for jobs," Labour Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Twitter.

Consumer goods giant Unilever says to cut 1,500 jobs

With France headed into an April presidential election marked by fears over inflation and purchasing power, Borne added that "our determined action for jobseekers has borne fruit".

While yet to officially declare his candidacy for reelection, President Emmanuel Macron's economic record will be especially closely scrutinised.

His 2017 platform including sweeping reforms to areas like employment law, tax and social spending, although some of those efforts stalled in the face of "yellow vest" protests and the Covid-19 pandemic.

State statistics agency Insee has nevertheless forecast economic expansion of 6.7 percent for 2021 ahead of its preliminary report on Friday, compared with an eight-percent slump in the previous year.

That would make France one of the 19-nation eurozone's top performers, buoyed by massive, pricey government interventions to limit the pandemic's impact on businesses and workers.

In recent weeks, the government has tried to limit the blow to average people's pockets from surging energy prices in Europe, including by ordering state-controlled generator EDF to sell more cut-price electricity.

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