FIGAROVOX/ANALYSIS – While the unemployment rate has just marked a new increase, Robin Rivaton wonders about the real ambition of the presidential project to “reverse the curve“.
Robin Rivaton is an economist, essayist, member of the scientific council of Fondapol, and author of France is ready (Les Belles Lettres, October 2, 2014).
UNEDIC, the association responsible for managing unemployment insurance by delegation from the State, has just published its forecasts for the evolution of the two main unemployment indicators for the years 2015 and 2016. The continuous increase in the number of jobseekers inactive jobs registered in the registers should cease by the end of the year, representing however an increase of 62,000 people over the year 2015, i.e. three times less than in 2014.
In 2016, the horizon should brighten with 51,000 fewer unemployed people, the first year of decline since 2007 when, in his general policy statement, the Prime Minister declared “There is (…) no more inevitability of mass unemployment today than there was for inflation yesterday. My government has thus set itself the target of an unemployment rate of 5% at the end of the five-year term..” This decline would also be true for the unemployment rate as defined by the International Labor Office (ILO), which fell from 10.4% to 9.7% at the end of 2016.
The news is important because if it comes true, it ticks one of the conditions set by the President of the Republic to be able to claim to compete in the next presidential election of 2017, the famous inversion of the curve.
Is François Hollande succeeding in his bet? The mere word “bet” is already insulting. One could expect that a President of the Republic having all the forecasting tools and all the economic levers would not be reduced to making a “bet” but would be able to set a sure course for a drop in unemployment.
Is François Hollande succeeding in his bet? The mere word bet is already insulting. One could expect that a President of the Republic having all the forecasting tools and all the economic levers would not be reduced to making a “bet” but would be able to set a sure course for a drop in unemployment. If the reversal objective has been continually shifted over the months and years, it is because the economic policy implemented has not worked. The Competitiveness-Employment Tax Credit (CICE) and the Responsibility and Solidarity Pact have had an impact on the margins of companies, but the administrative complexity of the system such as a reverse communication on the hardship account or the limitation of time contracts partials have dangerously damaged the confidence of business leaders.
The very question of the ambition of this “bet” arises. 51,000 fewer unemployed out of 3,600,000, the change is infinitesimal. In addition, Unedic’s 2016 forecast is down 25% from its June estimate. The exceptional conjunction of the stars at the start of 2015, a weak euro against the dollar, a drop in the price of oil, a drop in interest rates and the cost of credit, has already passed without us benefiting from it. of our European neighbours. Taking the European unemployment statistics, over the last twelve months, the number of job seekers has fallen by 162,000 in Italy, 195,000 in Germany, 263,000 in Poland, 437,000 in Spain, while it has increased by 148,000 in France.
Finally, rather than being satisfied with any inversion whatsoever, wouldn’t it be better to give a quantified objective on the level of work necessary for this country to be able to finance its social model? Because unemployment is only one facet of the French problem, alongside too early retirements, too low participation of young people in the labor market, low weekly working time and a reduced working days. We must not forget that the working time per Frenchman aged between 18 and 64 is 902 hours per year compared to 1,002 hours in Germany when it is close to the 1,123 on the other side of the Channel. Moreover, the debt of the unemployment insurance scheme should continue to widen in 2016 to reach 29.4 billion euros.
The common point of all the European countries which have managed to reduce their unemployment in substantial proportions in recent years is to have carried out a major reform of the labor market. The springs of this in France are known, negotiation at company level, freedom to negotiate on working hours and remuneration, simplification of the Labor Code, securing and capping compensation in the event of dismissal. It is still necessary to want to lower unemployment and not just make a “bet”.
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Unemployment: without political will, the decline is guesswork
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