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EU Jobless Rate Drops Slightly

February 9, 1998

LUXEMBOURG (AP) _ The European Union’s average unemployment rate fell slightly to 10.5 percent in December, down from the 10.6 percent in November, the EU statistics agency said Monday.

Eurostat estimated 17.7 million people were out of work across the 15-nation EU.

EU unemployment has been stable at just below 11 percent since 1994. The December rate stood at 10.8 percent in 1996 and 1995.

The EU jobless rate is roughly double that of the United States and triple Japan’s rate.

Eurostat said unemployment fell by at least one-percentage point during 1997 in the Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Britain and Ireland. The biggest yearly fall was in Finland where the rate dropped from 14.7 percent to 12.6 percent.

Unemployment remained high over the year in the EU’s three largest economies. In Germany the jobless rate rose from 9.2 to 10 percent. In France and Italy it was steady at just above 12 percent.

Luxembourg continued to register the lowest unemployment _ 3.6 percent percent, followed by Austria with 4.4 percent. Spain topped the EU list with 21 percent, Eurostat said in its monthly report.

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