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France’s unemployment rate fell to 10 per cent at the end of last year – a welcome return to falling joblessness in the country where the labour market has become a politically charged part of its presidential campaign.

Unemployment in the eurozone’s second largest economy slipped to 10 per cent in the rolling three months to December, down from the 10.1 per cent the in period prior – where the rate was revised up from an initial estimate of 10 per cent.

France’s unemployment rate had shown a worrying uptick late last year, defying the broadly impressive gains made across the eurozone. Average eurozone unemployment now stands at its lowest since May 2009 at 9.6 per cent.

France’s double-digit unemployment rate has long been the scourge of its outgoing Socialist president Francois Hollande who had staked his political career on bringing the rate below 10 per cent.

Record levels of unpopularity along with a sluggish economy meant Mr Hollande made the unprecedented decision not to seek re-election in the country’s vote held in three months’ time. Current polling shows the far-right Marine Le Pen, who is promising to revive France’s moribund industrial heartlands, would win a first round vote but lose the final run-off in early May, regardless of her opponent.

Chart via Bloomberg

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