BERLIN The Ifo economic institute's German employment barometer fell in March to its lowest level since January 2010, the Handelsblatt newspaper reported, adding that the drop is the biggest since records began in 2002.

"German companies are putting the brakes on personnel planning," Ifo expert Klaus Wohlrabe said of the data, which the Munich institute calculates monthly for Handelsblatt based on the employment intentions of around 9,000 companies.

"A rise in unemployment will be unavoidable despite short-time work", Wohlrabe said, referring to a government-backed scheme that allows firms to put workers on shorter hours.

(Writing by Paul Carrel; editing by Scot W. Stevenson)