Is Emmanuel Macron’s record as good as he claims?

Emmanuel Macron during the presentation of the Presidential Election Program in Aubervilliers (Seine-Saint-Denis), March 17, 2022.

On Thursday, March 17, Emmanuel Macron repeated his goal of achieving “full employment” several times during a press conference where he presented the main lines of his program for reelection. He has paid off in achieving achievable goals and reducing unemployment by following the policies he has guided since 2017. Is this really true? If the numbers prove his correctness, they obscure serious inequality. Explanation.

What he said

“The unemployment rate reached its lowest level in 15 years. Youth unemployment rate, lowest level in 40 years, highest activity rate since measurement. »»

This is pretty true

  • The lowest unemployment rate since 2008

Emmanuel Macron had already confirmed in November 2021 that the unemployment rate had never been so low in 15 years. If you stick to the changes in the unemployment rate defined by the International Labor Organization (ILO), the numbers still show him quite right. “Benchmark index for analyzing changes in the labor market”As the Ministry of Labor pointed out.

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France’s unemployment rate fell 0.6 points in the fourth quarter of 2021 to 7.4% of the working population, according to the latest figures from the National Institute of Statistical Economics (Insee). This is certainly the lowest unemployment rate for 15 years, or almost ever, and we need to go back to 2008, 14 years ago, to find an unemployment rate of less than 8%. “The previous four quarters were nearly stable between 8.1% and 8%. Excluding the one-off Trompe-l’Ouille decline in the spring of 2020 associated with the health crisis, pre-crisis levels (end of 2019). 0.8 points lower than ), the lowest level since 2008 »Details INSEE.

  • Participation rate broke the 1975 record

The current President of the Republic also states that the rate of activity, which measures the ratio of the active population (employed as unemployed) to the total population, is quite true.

Indeed, this indicator reached the third quarter of 2021 “Highest level since INSEE measured (1975)”, 73.5% of the population, details of the institute. However, in the fourth quarter of 2021, it recorded a minimum decline of about 0.2%.

What deserves a subtle difference

  • Youth unemployment rate far from record …

Presidential candidates, on the other hand, play numbers when claiming youth unemployment. “Reach the lowest level in 40 years”..

According to INSEE data, the average annual unemployment rate for young unemployed has dropped significantly from 26% in 2016 to 18.9% in 2021 over the past five years. However, it remains much higher than in 1975 (7.9%), 1990 (16.8%), or more recently 2002 (17.8%). From this point of view, it would be correct to say that the youth unemployment rate is the lowest in 19 years.

To agree with Macron, we need to look at the quarterly average, not the annual average of the youngest unemployment rate. In fact, in the fourth quarter of 2021, the unemployment rate for 18-24 year olds fell 3.6 points to 15.9%, the lowest level since the first quarter of 1981 (15.3%).

This decline is associated with a clear increase in the number of beneficiaries of employment research contracts since 2016. “Accelerated from the end of 2020 to the end of 2021”Please note INSEE, a memo about the economy released in March. It can be explained by various reforms, such as financial assistance for apprentices, increased support for employment, and measures aimed at simplifying the use of apprentices for employers. These young unemployment trainees are considered “employed workers” in the ILO’s sense and are helping to reduce the youth unemployment rate. From the end of 2015 to the end of 2021, the youth employment rate increased by 5.3 points, of which 2.9 points were due to employment contracts.

The picture of falling unemployment hides strong inequality. The youngest unemployment rate between the ages of 15 and 24 remains very high at 18.9%, compared to 23.5% at the beginning of Emmanuel Macron’s five-year term. This is 3.3 times the unemployment rate of people over the age of 50.

And this trend is not going in the right direction. From the beginning of October 2021 to the end of December, the proportion of people aged 15-29 who were not active or trained rose again (+0.5 points) and settled at 12.2. % And then back to pre-crisis levels (12.3% in the fourth quarter of 2019).

  • The number of unemployed is still high

Although it has begun to decline significantly in the last three quarters, the number of unemployed remains high. As of the end of 2021, there were 3,336 million inactive job seekers (Category A), an increase to 5,659 million including part-time job seekers (Category B and C). This is the lowest level reached since the end of 2012.

  • Rising “Unemployment Hello”

INSEE “Hello around unemployment”, They are still looking for a job, but group people who have left the official count because they no longer meet the criteria of the definition of unemployment defined by the ILO...

In the last quarter of 2021, this number increased slightly and returned to pre-crisis levels. Therefore, there are 1,897,000 inactive people who want to work but are not considered unemployed because they do not meet the ILO standards (investigated and readily available).

  • Explosion and instability of micro enterprises

Lower unemployment also hides the emergence of new forms of instability. Piece work, often referred to as “Uberization of society,” is one of Macron’s five-year term’s major economic markers.

This is certainly characterized by a self-employed explosion. In 2021, instability (only one-third survive after five years), low compensation (about 590 euros a month on average), vulnerabilities (in some cases, it is similar to the concealment of an often suffering office worker). ).

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  • Uncertain outlook

Another reason for concern: Despite the economic vitality of the recovery after Covid-19, 2022 could be difficult in the labor market if one believes in the French Economic Observatory. In a memo released in October 2021, the latter fears slowing job creation and rising unemployment, which could reach 8.2% of France’s active population. “By 2022, job creation will be less sustainable, the workforce will grow faster than employment, and as a result, unemployment will increase (year-end unemployment rate is +45,000 compared to the end of 2021). Therefore, the unemployment rate should rise by 0.2 points »».