A fall in the unemployment rate according to the ILO: the false good news

By Bruno Ducoudré and Eric Heyer

Two days following the announcement by France’s unemployment agency Pôle Emploi of an increase in Class A job seeker registrations in April, which comes on top of a first quarter increase, the INSEE statistics agency has published its estimate of the unemployment rate. Under the definition of the International Labour Office (ILO), the unemployment rate in metropolitan France fell by 0.1 point in the first quarter of 2015, meaning 38,000 fewer unemployed than in the fourth quarter of 2014. But according to Pôle emploi, over this same period the number of registered Class A job seekers rose by 12,000. In one case, unemployment is falling; in the other, it is rising: this does not make for a clear diagnosis of what’s happening with unemployment at the start of the year.

What accounts for the different diagnoses of the INSEE and Pôle Emploi? Continue reading “A fall in the unemployment rate according to the ILO: the false good news”

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Unemployment figures: the chill returns in April

By Analysis and Forecasting Department (OFCE-DAP)

While the slowing increase in the number of job seekers registered with France’s Pôle Emploi unemployment agency in the first quarter of 2015 could be seen as the premise of the long-awaited downturn in the unemployment curve, the figures released today once again cast doubt on this prospect, at least in the short term. The registration of 26,200 additional people in category A at the agency in April brings the increase in job seekers back to a high rate, well above the average over the last two years (13,400 per month) and far from the virtual stability seen in the first quarter (+3,000 per month).

While the publication of strong figures for first-quarter GDP growth (+ 0.6%) reaffirmed the prospect of a recovery, the jobless numbers are disappointing. Don’t forget, however, that employment does not immediately respond to a pick-up in activity; it will take time to reap the benefits for the labour market of the good growth experienced at the year’s beginning, when the recovery has proven to be strong, pushing employers to recruit. For now, companies are still digesting the overstaffing inherited from the period of very low growth between 2011 and 2014. The fall in unemployment that can be foreseen with the recovery will not take place until the second half of 2015. But the acceleration of job centre registrations in April sends a contrary signal. Continue reading “Unemployment figures: the chill returns in April”

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The “Ricardian effect”: to be taken with caution!

By David Ben Dahan and Eric Heyer

Is the deterioration in the public finances influencing households’ consumption behaviour? A recent INSEE study tries to answer this with an econometric estimate of the determinants of the savings rates using yearly data from 1971 to 2011. Based on the results of the study, the authors attribute recent changes in the French households’ rate of consumption to fiscal policy and the state of the public finances. Their model thus concludes that there is a significant “Ricardian” effect: having noted the worsening state of the public finances during the crisis, households are anticipating future tax hikes, leading them to up their savings during the recent period. Note that this effect is only temporary: the results of the INSEE’s econometrics indicate that while this has reined in consumer spending in the short term, the effect will fade quickly and disappear in the long term. Households are therefore “Ricardian” … but only in the short term! Continue reading “The “Ricardian effect”: to be taken with caution!”

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Should we be celebrating the fall in unemployment at end 2013?

By Bruno Ducoudré and Eric Heyer

Every quarter, the INSEE publishes the unemployment rate as defined by the International Labour Office (ILO): for the fourth quarter of 2013, it fell 0.1 point in France, meaning 41,000 fewer unemployed. Likewise, every month the number of jobseekers registered with the Pôle Emploi job centre is reported: during the fourth quarter of 2013, this source indicated that the number of registered jobseekers in category A rose by 23,000. In one case unemployment is down, in the other it is up – this does not lead to a clear diagnosis about where unemployment is heading at year end. Continue reading “Should we be celebrating the fall in unemployment at end 2013?”

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What minimum wage for Germany?

By Odile Chagny and Sabine Le Bayon

The campaign for the parliamentary elections taking place on 22 September in Germany has engendered a broad debate among all political forces about the consolidation of the welfare state. The SPD programme highlights the concept of social justice, while in its programme the CDU has taken up several of the SPD’s main themes in the field of social welfare. The role of the welfare state has never been more central to a general election campaign since 2002. Despite this, the concern is not to move towards expanding the welfare state but the need for better quality in the welfare state, by correcting some of the negative consequences of Agenda 2010 [1]. Continue reading “What minimum wage for Germany?”

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A fiscal policy to promote structural reform – lessons from the German case

By Eric Heyer

“France should copy Germany’s reforms to thrive”, Gerhard Schröder entitled an opinion piece in the Financial Times on 5 June 2013. As for the European Commission (EC), its latest annual recommendations to the Member states, released on 29 May, seem to take a step back from its strategy of a rapid and synchronized return to balancing the public finances, which has been in place since 2010. The EU executive’s priority now seems to be implementation of structural reforms of the labour and services markets in the euro zone countries. Continue reading “A fiscal policy to promote structural reform – lessons from the German case”

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France: the rise in cyclical unemployment continues

By Bruno Ducoudré

The Great Recession, which began in 2008, has resulted in a continuous and inexorable rise in unemployment in France, by 3.1 percentage points between the low point reached in the first quarter of 2008 (7.1% in mainland France) and the peak in the fourth quarter of 2012. The unemployment rate is now close to the record levels reached in the late 1990s. This rise can be broken down into a change in the rate of cyclical unemployment due to the lack of economic growth, and a change in the rate of structural unemployment. The latter gives information on the extent of the output gap, which is crucial for measuring the structural deficit. Consequently, any choice about the fiscal policy to be adopted to re-balance the public finances needs an analysis of the nature of the additional unemployment generated by the crisis. In other words, has the crisis mainly resulted in cyclical unemployment or structural unemployment? Continue reading “France: the rise in cyclical unemployment continues”

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Holding to the required course

By Eric Heyer

This text summarizes the OFCE’s 2013-2014 forecasts for the French economy.

In 2013, the French economy should see negative annual average growth, with a fall in GDP of 0.2%, before a modest recovery in 2014, with growth of 0.6 % (Table 1). This particularly mediocre performance is far from the path that an economy pulling out of a crisis should be taking. Continue reading “Holding to the required course”

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Should spending on unemployment benefits be cut?

By Gérard Cornilleau

The Cour des comptes [Court of Auditors] has presented a report on the labour market which proposes that policy should be better “targeted”. With regard to unemployment benefits in particular, it focuses on the non-sustainability of expenditure and suggests certain cost-saving measures. Some of these are familiar and affect the rules on the entertainment industry and compensation for interim employees. We will not go into this here since the subject is well known [1]. But the Cour also proposes cutting unemployment benefits, which it says are (too) generous at the top and the bottom of the pay scale. In particular, it proposes reducing the maximum benefit level and establishing a digressive system, as some unemployed executives now receive benefits of over 6,000 euros per month. The reasoning in support of these proposals seems wrong on two counts. Continue reading “Should spending on unemployment benefits be cut?”

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The tax credit to encourage competitiveness and jobs – what impact?

By Mathieu Plane

Following the submission to the Prime Minister of the Gallois Report on the pact for encouraging the competitiveness of French industry, the government decided to establish the tax credit to encourage competitiveness and jobs (“the CICE”). Based on the rising trade deficit observed over the course of the last decade, the sharp deterioration in business margins since the onset of the crisis and growing unemployment, the government intends to use the CICE to restore the competitiveness of French business and to boost employment. According to our assessment, which was drawn up using the e-mod.fr model as described in an article in the Revue de l’OFCE (issue 126-2012), within five years the CICE should help to create about 150,000 jobs, bringing the unemployment rate down by 0.6 point and generating additional growth of 0.1 GDP point by 2018. Continue reading “The tax credit to encourage competitiveness and jobs – what impact?”

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