• The figures for job seekers in April will be released on Wednesday.

    While Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said Monday that full employment is possible in France.

  • With an unemployment rate currently above 7%, France is nevertheless one of the laggards of the most developed economies in this area.

  • That said, employment is currently experiencing a very good momentum, something to hope for.

No longer say “Minister of Labour”, but “Minister of Labour, Full Employment and Integration”.

It is under this full title that Olivier Dussopt was appointed to the new Borne government last Friday.

Full employment therefore falls officially and in full into the objectives of the executive.

Elisabeth Borne, new Prime Minister, made it a clear course by declaring on Monday that "full employment is within reach".

Simple political communication in view of the legislative elections or real ambition?

Let's fix the terms already.

Full employment does not correspond to 0% unemployment, which is totally utopian.

"There will always be employees in transition between two jobs, entering the world of work... Even the countries with the lowest unemployment rate rarely manage to drop below the 2% mark", indicates Yannick L'Horty, professor in economics at Eiffel University and a specialist in labor economics.

The threshold of full employment is in fact at an unemployment rate of less than 5% of the active population of a given territory, according to the rate set by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

"But the notion of full employment remains vague and has no precise definition", recognizes the professor.

France has already experienced such a situation,

The 5% milestone

Let's be less ambitious and stay at this already very low bar of 5%.

Possible ?

Several strong global economies are already doing this.

In March 2022, Germany's unemployment rate was at 2.9%, the United States at 3.6%, the United Kingdom at 3.7%.

OECD countries (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) even have an average of 5.1%.

France is at 7.4%.

Its lowest level since 2008 and the subprime economic crisis.

So there are still 2.4 points to lose to enter the closed circle of countries that can boast of full employment.

Far from being obvious or easy.

But as Gilbert Cette, professor of economics at the Neoma Business School and labor market specialist, reminds us: “Five years ago, no one would have believed in such a low unemployment rate in France in 2022. prohibit oneself in economics and even less ambitious objectives.

Moreover, some elements can legitimately feed this ambition.

reasons to hope

Firstly, the particularly positive dynamics of the labor market.

Falling unemployment is nothing new.

It has even become a catchphrase in recent months and quarters, after a year 2020 in

annus horribilis

.

And if precisely, we consider 2020 as a cursed parenthesis with the coronavirus, the downward trend in unemployment is even older: "Since 2018, unemployment has been falling and the employment situation is still dynamic at present", enthuses Yannick L'Horty.

Can the dynamic continue until an unemployment rate of 5% is reached?

"The perspective has never been so realistic, at least over the last 50 years," says the professor.

Several reasons for this.

The first: growth, record in 2021. “However, in France, it is not accompanied by productivity gains, but only job gains,” notes Gilbert Cette.

Then, thanks to several structural reasons, in particular the reform of vocational training and apprenticeship or the tax credit for competitiveness and employment (CICE), says Yannick L'Horty, "especially since 2019 and the exemption from charges for companies that hire under certain conditions”.

Add to that an absence of a boost from the minimum wage for years and you get "a very moderate labor cost in France, so it's easy to hire", concludes the expert.

A glass ceiling?

Full cap towards 5% then?

Not so fast, because there are so many reasons to think that this goal will be unattainable as it is.

If growth has brought employment, the latter is beginning to seriously slow down, the fault of galloping inflation which is taking over.

“We are once again entering a period of crisis and uncertainty, which could slow down the upturn,” fears Gilbert Cette.

Last point for the expert, the end of massive public aid and “Whatever the cost”, which will have boosted employment figures.

In the end, there are 50% reasons to believe it, 50% to doubt;

only the future will tell if the objective will be achieved or not.

"It's still a good course to aim for," concludes Gilbert Cette.

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  • Economy

  • Unemployment

  • Job

  • Jobseekers

  • Government

  • Work

  • Elisabeth Borne

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