French Jobless Claims Rose for 10th Month in February

French jobless claims rose for a 10th month in February as companies trimmed payrolls with the nation’s economic rebound yet to take hold.

The number of people actively looking for work in February rose by 6,200, or 0.2 percent, to 2,867,900, from the previous month, the Labor Ministry said today in an e-mailed statement from Paris. The increase was less than half that predicted by the median of six estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

With national statistics office Insee predicting economic growth stalled in the first quarter and jobless claims at their highest in more than a decade, unemployment is a top concern for voters before presidential elections in April and May. President Nicolas Sarkozy sought to highlight the good news on the jobless front, noting that the increase in claims is slowing.

There’s been “improvement” amid “a reduction in the increase in unemployment,” he said today on France Info radio.

French growth slowed to 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter, defying forecasts that the country would tip into a recession as Sarkozy and other European leaders struggled to end Europe’s debt crisis.

Today’s increase in claims compares with a rise of 13,400 in January and more than 20,000 in each of the preceding four months.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Deen in Paris at markdeen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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