For jobs, the worst is yet to come in France

Muriel Pénicaud, the Minister of Labor, is not going all the way: “I am worried about employment. This crisis is not a parenthesis, it will last.” The first warning shot sounded at the end of April: the number of job seekers in category A, those who did not work during the month, increased by 7.1% in March, or 246,100 more people. “flexible” part of the job market. “The sharp increase is explained by the non-renewal of short contracts such as those for temporary workers, advances Emmanuel Jessua, economist at Coe-Rexecode. It is the most precarious who are the first to bear the brunt of business adjustment measures. “A foretaste of difficult months to come, according to Yannick L’Horty, professor of economics at the University of Paris-Est -Marne-la-Vallée: “The moment of truth will be the second quarter. The probability is great that these figures are an alarming signal which foreshadows what will happen in April, May and June. “Observation shared by Eric Heyer, director of the analysis and forecasting department of the French Economic Observatory (OFCE): “The situation of companies is not stabilized, which makes the risk of bankruptcy high. We would then enter into a more classic economic crisis which

would lead to job destruction, an increase in unemployment and precautionary savings which slow down the resumption of consumption. “

This concern is also that of Medef: “At first, companies drew on their cash to keep their heads above water, advances Patrick Martin, deputy chairman of the employers’ organization. But activity will slowly restart. and many companies will not regain their pre-crisis profitability for a long time, especially since they will incur additional costs linked to the health crisis. This is why we must continue to support them to prevent a wave bankruptcies and layoffs. ” At the end of 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund, the unemployment rate in France will once again have passed the 10% mark.

To avoid the catastrophe, the government opened wide the floodgates of short-time working. If all economists recognize the usefulness of the device in times of strong storm, some like Pierre Cahuc (see opposite) warn against its harmful side effects. A message received five out of five by the government, which plans to tighten the criteria for partial activity from June 1. Deprived of this indirect aid, which currently amounts to 24 billion, many companies will find themselves facing the harsh reality of a world in recession where, according to the economist Patrick Artus (Natixis), ” opinions will overwhelmingly support demands for wage increases. In addition to this requirement, the social body and politicians will push for more efforts in environmental matters. “To these collective requests, companies will not be able to respond, given the state of their accounts,” warns Patrick Artus.

Unemployment insurance to be rebuilt

To save its financial situation, the private sector under pressure should therefore activate the workforce adjustment variable. “The rules of unemployment insurance must be reviewed to face the exceptional situation in order to leave no one behind, especially young people,” says Marylise Léon, number two of the CFDT. “Measures have been suspended such as the degression of allowances for executives or the change in the calculation of the daily salary, continues the cédétiste. But the opening of rights remains at six months of work against four before the government reform. What penalizes the most precarious. ” The Ministry of Labor, it seems very attentive to the social partners, announced at the end of April the opening of a dialogue to rebuild unemployment insurance commensurate with the crisis.