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German unemployment falls ahead of polls

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GERMAN unemployment extended its decline in August, underpinning a robust upswing in Europe’s largest economy less then four weeks before general elections.

The number of people out of work fell by a seasonally adjusted 5,000 to 2.532 million, data from the Federal Labor Agency in Nuremberg showed on Thursday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey was for a drop of 6,000. The jobless rate remained at 5.7%, the lowest level since the country’s reunification.

“The labor market continues to develop favorably,” labor agency head Detlef Scheele said in a statement. “Strong employment growth continues and demand from companies for new employees continues to be high.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s record of falling unemployment, stable growth and a balanced budget has helped her maintain a double-digit lead over Social Democratic challenger Martin Schulz as she bids for a fourth term in Sept. 24 election. The German economy continued its expansion in the second quarter and the Bundesbank has said that momentum remains strong as rising employment encourages private consumption.

Joblessness fell by about 3,000 in west Germany and 2,000 in the eastern part of the country.

In the euro area, unemployment probably remained at 9.1%. Eurostat will publish those data, along with consumer prices, at 11 a.m. Frankfurt time. — Bloomberg

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