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PARIS (Reuters) - France's economy added nearly 50,000 new jobs in the first three months of the year, marking seven straight quarters of net new job creation, data from the INSEE statistics agencies showed on Friday.
Non-farm private-sector payrolls rose by 49,400 or 0.3 percent in the first quarter, after rising an upwardly revised 67,300 or 0.4 percent in the previous quarter, INSEE said in a first estimate for the first three months of 2017.
The increase brought the overall level to 16.228 million, the highest level since the third quarter of 2008 just before the global financial crisis began taking its toll on the French economy.
The improvement was driven by the services sector, where 56,200 net new jobs helped offset the destruction of 4,800 in the industrial sector and 2,000 in construction.
The steady creation of new jobs, almost exclusively in services, since the second quarter of 2015, is gradually helping heal France's labor market after huge job losses during the financial crisis.
However so far the increase has not been enough to bring unemployment substantially lower, partly because the number of people in the job market has also been rising.
Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Andrew Callus