In France, a decline in unemployment “trompe l’oeil”

On Thursday, INSEE indicated a reduction in unemployment in France during the second quarter, but this is mainly a case of “trompe l’oeil” linked to containment, as data on the extent of the crisis already exist.

Unemployment in France fell during the second quarter. But this decline “does not reflect an improvement in the labor market,” INSEE said on Thursday, August 13. This is a case in “trompe l’oeil” related to containment that has prevented people from looking for work. The crisis is there, especially with a reduction in the number of hours worked, according to INSEE.

Unemployment in France fell by 0.7 points in the second quarter to 7.1%, according to figures released on Thursday. Already during the first quarter, unemployment had fallen by 0.3 points to 7.8%.

“The crisis is extensive”

These reductions “in trompe l’oeil” according to INSEE are inherent in the very definition of unemployed within the meaning of the International Labor Office (BIT), a traditional thermometer that measures unemployment.

To be unemployed according to the ILO, you must be 15 or over, be: unemployed during the reference week; available for work within the next two weeks; has conducted an active job search over the past four weeks or found a job that begins within three months.

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According to this indicator, the number of unemployed decreased from 271,000 to two million people between April and June.

Other data published on Thursday by the Institute of Statistics “well describes the scale of the crisis”, emphasizes Sylvain Larrieu from INSEE, referring to the case of record levels of employment and hours worked, or even the increase in an unprecedented scale of ” during unemployment “.

Inclusion questioned

“The containment has forced a lot of the population into inactivity, whether they are employed or unemployed,” he recalls, a few days after INSEE announced that more than 600,000 had been destroyed. jobs in the first semester in the private sector due to the coronavirus crisis.

The employment rate for 15-64-year-olds fell by 1.6 points to 64.4%, its lowest level since the beginning of 2017. The decline is particularly marked for young people under 25, from -2.9 points to 26.6%, a historically low since INSEE measured it (1975).

“Unemployment”, which applies to people employed part-time who want to work more, jumped to 20% of employees, or 12 points more than in the first quarter, “an unprecedented level” since Insee measures this indicator (1990).

As a result of the strong work with short-term work, the average number of hours worked per job decreased by 12.9% compared with the first quarter and by 18% during one year.

“Halo of unemployment”

“Halo around unemployment”, ie unemployed who want one but who do not meet all ILO criteria to be considered unemployed, also reflects the crisis: “among inactive people within the meaning of the ILO, 2, 5 million want a job “, up 767,000 from the first quarter.

Halo’s share of the population aged 15-64 was 6% in the second quarter, “the highest level” since INSEE measured it (2003).

Given the unemployment rate and the halo around unemployment, “we have a third of the working population inactive, while we are traditionally 11-12%. This is a huge explosion,” comments Mathieu Plane, an economist at the French Observatory of Economic Conjunctures. (OFCE).

He expects unemployment to rise in the third quarter, “unless there is a restraint, with people looking for work who will switch from halo to unemployment.”

With AFP