Cyprus expects strong growth to bring full employment

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus' government says the island nation will return to full employment in as little as three years as long as the economy continues to grow strongly.

The statistics agency said Tuesday that the economy grew by an annual 3.8 percent in the first quarter of this year.

Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said it's the 13th straight quarter that the economy grows and that employment is estimated to rise by 3.5 percent this year.

Prodromou said joblessness in March dropped to 9.1 percent from a high of 16 percent in 2013. That's when a financial crisis forced Cyprus to accept a multibillion euro rescue deal from creditors in order avoid bankruptcy.

He said the government will continue with economic reforms to buttress growth.

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