French jobless claims in record surge in March: labor ministry

Residents, wearing protective face masks, walk their dogs in Paris during a lockdown imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France, April 24, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Paris: The number of people seeking jobless claims rose by a record 7.1% in March from February, the Labor Ministry said on Monday in the latest sign of a fast-deteriorating job market.

The total number of people registered as seeking work at government employment agencies rose by 246,100, the biggest monthly increase since records began in 1996, the ministry said, according to Reuters.

The tally of people on short-term or temporary contracts rose sharply in March as a nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus outbreak took effect mid-month. Meanwhile the number of people getting jobs also dropped.

Some 863,000 French companies have put 10.8 million people — more than one in two private sector workers — on state-subsidized furloughs, the ministry said separately.

The government is financing furloughs in hope of preventing mass permanent layoffs that would drive up unemployment.