Paris (AFP)

The number of unemployed continued to decline slightly in the third quarter (-0.4%), according to figures released Friday by Pôle emploi, the last before the entry into force of the controversial reform of unemployment benefits on November 1st .

France had on average between July and September 3,617 million people registered in category A (3,364 million in metropolis), 15,800 less than in the previous quarter, where the decline was almost identical. Over one year, the decline is 2.4%.

The number of jobseekers with and without work (A, B and C) fell a little more strongly, by 0.9%, to 5.836 million (-52,100). Over one year, the decline is 2%. The drop is especially marked for jobseekers in category C (having worked more than 78 hours per month) with a decline of 2.4% (-0.4% over one year).

The black spot of this quarter, unemployment increases by 0.7% among those under 25 years (-0.9% over one year). While registrants (A, B and C) for over a year are down 0.8%, they still remain 2,628 million.

Despite the deterioration of the European and international economic environment (Sino-US trade tensions, Brexit, etc.), the trend of a slow but steady decline in unemployment is continuing thanks to the dynamism of the labor market.

After a stagnation in the second quarter, the declarations of hirings of more than one month are indeed distributed again with the increase (+ 2.3%), carried by the CDI (+ 3%), according to the Acoss (the "bank of the Secu").

In its last point of convergence at the beginning of October, INSEE was counting on more than 260,000 net job creations for 2019 as part of a French growth that is slightly better than its neighbors at 1.3%.

This should lead to reducing the unemployment rate to 8.3% of the active population at the end of the year, against 8.5% at the end of June.

Will this pace be enough to reach the target of a 7% rate at the end of the five-year period? Muriel Pénicaud said on Tuesday that it remains "a possible horizon" if "the global macroeconomic conditions, European do not bring the recession in Europe and France".

- Hardening of the compensation rules -

To achieve this, the Minister of Labor also relies on its reform of unemployment insurance, the first part of which deals with access to compensation comes into effect November 1

The reform, much criticized by the unions who see as Laurent Berger (CFDT) "a system of increasing poverty", changes in particular the minimum period of work required to open rights.

From November 1st, it will be necessary to have worked six months on the last 24 months instead of four months on the last 28. The threshold for reloading will also be six months to one today.

According to Unedic, this could have a significant impact on the number of job-seekers receiving benefits, especially among young people who have shorter entitlements with lower reference salaries.

During the first year of the reform, 200,000 people would thus no longer open the right (which does not prevent them from registering at Pôle emploi, but they will not be compensable as 30% currently already registered) because they will not reach the necessary six months, 210,000 would open a right, but for later (with a delay of 5 months on average) and 300,000 would see their duration of compensation a little decrease.

"When the market is dynamic, you have to go back to work - there are 700,000 job vacancies available right now" at Pôle Emploi, Muriel Pénicaud explained. "Even with six months, we are one of the most generous countries in Europe," she insisted.

The Minister emphasizes the opening of the right to compensation for resigning employees with a conversion project and self-employed persons in liquidation. But the conditions are very framed and forecasts are smaller: no more than 30,000 people a year in both cases.

© 2019 AFP