March 23, 2023

After a fall of almost 10% last year, unemployment is back to its level at the end of 2011

Posted Jan 25, 2023, 11:59 AMUpdated on Jan 26, 2023 at 6:29 p.m.

Growth is slowing down, but unemployment continues to fall, to the great surprise of economists who are losing their minds a little. The number of unemployed jobseekers registered with Pôle emploi, classified in category A, fell further by 3.6% in the fourth quarter in France excluding Mayotte, to an average of just under 3.05 million people. , according to figures published by the operator and the Ministry of Labor on Wednesday.

We have to go back to the end of 2011 to find such a low level, that is to say before the quinquennium Holland, which had been marked by a sharp rise in unemployment. This represents 114,000 fewer people compared to the previous quarter. Or 312,100 less over one year (-9.3%) for the workforce in this category, the most scrutinized. The under 25s have benefited a little more from this decline than the over 50s.

“Best reporting of hours of reduced activity”

The number of registrants who worked less than 78 hours each month (category B) continued to increase sharply in the fourth quarter (+39,200, +5%), as did that of category C, those who declared more than 78 hours (+34,400 or +2.3%). It should be noted that Pôle emploi modified the procedure for updating registrants in stages last year. From January to November, this had the effect, according to the operator, of “better declaration of hours of reduced activity” in particular, and therefore of a switch from category A to categories B or C (-105,000 for the first, +90,000 for two seconds and +15,000 list outputs).

In total, however, over the months of October to December, Pôle emploi recorded 5.4 million people in these three categories, i.e. 41,000 less (-0.8% over the quarter, -5.1% over a year). Another encouraging signal, the number of registrants for more than a year – 2.43 million – fell by 13.4%, still in France excluding Mayotte. At 45.2%, their share in the total continues to decline.

The labor market is holding up

These developments confirm the very good performance of hiring last year as shown by recent Urssaf statistics, with in particular more than 5 million permanent contracts signed. Even if the explanations are lacking to understand the reasons for such resilience, it is clear that the French economy continues to grow rich in jobs. “There are several possible explanations”, estimated Jean-Luc Tavernier, the director of Insee, on Radio Classique, citing a possible “retention of jobs in sectors which are not doing so well” for fear of recruitment tensions, or even “less undeclared work” since the Covid aid (in order to be able to benefit from it).

How long will this last? The outlook for business hiring remains high, according to surveys. “In January, we observed above-average confidence, which suggests new job creation,” added Jean-Luc Tavernier.

A zoom shot in the figures from Pôle emploi and the Ministry of Labor nevertheless shows that exits from the lists for declared resumption of employment have been falling for several quarters and are below their average levels of 2019, before the Covid pandemic. It is not the exits for resumption of employment which fall, affirms Pôle emploi, but the exits for lack of updating. With the new procedure (which pre-displays the hours worked), more unemployed people in this situation do not want to go through with the process.

Another signal, in category B, it is the small contracts that are on the rise. However, in category C, contracts of 151 hours or more continue to progress to the point of benefiting a record number of registrants…

In its latest economic report, INSEE is counting on a landing in recruitment with an anticipated increase in the number of people in employment of 50,000 “only” in the first half of 2023, against 236,000 over the same period last year. “But it is not impossible that we will again be positively surprised”, notes Jean-Luc Tavernier.

At this mid-year horizon, the unemployment rate, measured according to the meaning of the International Labor Office, should remain around 7.3% of the active population, also taking into account the slowdown in the latter. As a reminder, the full employment objective that Emmanuel Macron has set for himself by the end of the five-year term represents a drop of around 2 percentage points in this rate.

Contrast according to regions

In the long term, a study published a little less than a year ago by the Ministry of Labor and France Strategy anticipated 760,000 jobs to be filled on average by 2030, on the basis of retirements and arrivals of young people alone. in the labor market. A regional version was made public on Tuesday. It shows that the dynamism of employment will continue to benefit the coastal and southern areas but that, as a result, these same regions will suffer the most difficulty in filling vacancies.

On the other hand, the north-eastern quarter of France will experience less recruitment tension due to a lower number of job creations. Between the two, Ile-de-France will occupy an intermediate position. This new study also takes into account mobility between regions, but not – which constitutes its limit – the flow of people who will leave unemployment or the effects of the pension reform desired by the government on the employment rate of seniors. .

The evolution of unemployment will also depend on the structural effects (if any) of the France travail project to reorganize all players in the public employment service in the broad sense and which will be presented normally shortly.

Unemployment insurance: tougher rules from February 1

To accelerate the fall in unemployment and achieve its objective of full employment, the government is relying in particular on its reform of unemployment insurance which comes into force on 1er february. This provides for a 25% reduction in the duration of compensation for all job seekers who open up rights. An unemployed person who would have been entitled, for example, to 12 months of compensation under the current system will only be entitled to nine months. Seniors go from a maximum of 36 months to 27. A floor of six months will be preserved.

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