“There is no demonstrated link between unemployment insurance and recruitment difficulties”

Researcher associated with the French Observatory of Economic Conditions (OFCE), Bruno Coquet considers that the policy of the executive, which consists in tightening the rules of compensation for the unemployed to push them to resume employment, is unfounded. He also regrets a “deficiency” of the state in the governance of the unemployment insurance scheme.

What do you think of the new unemployment insurance reform project announced by the executive?

At this stage, the project is imprecise. The will displayed is to “go further”. But further than what? The previous reform, the last provisions of which entered into force in autumn 2021, has not yet been evaluated. The process undertaken today seems to me to be hasty. Everything happens as if solutions were put forward in the face of a problem that is not known.

The stated goal is to push job seekers to take up a job, at a time when recruitment tensions are high. This is a well identified problem, right?

Since 2019, the number of unemployed people receiving benefits has fallen twice as fast as total unemployment. Beyond the anecdotes, there is not, in all rigor, a demonstrated link between unemployment insurance and recruitment difficulties. Remember that the scheme piloted by Unédic compensates only 40% of job seekers. And among those who are covered by the device, more than half are far from being passive, since they exert a “reduced activity”. In reality, the first question is to understand why the majority of job seekers, who are not compensated by insurance, do not fill the positions offered.

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The CPME highlights situations where employees refuse a permanent contract and return to unemployment insurance…

These examples evoke fraud rather than disincentive rules. If an unemployed person rejects a reasonable job offer twice, he risks being struck off the roll and suspension of the payment of his benefit. However, the powers and means of control of Pôle emploi have been reinforced since 2019, and as far as we know, the rate of sanctions remains stable and concerns the vast majority of unemployed people who do not receive compensation. The problem does not come from the rules of compensation, reforming them will not change anything.

The Minister of Labor said that the method of calculating the allowance, which came into force in October 2021, facilitates recruitment and employment incentives. Do you share his opinion?

The measures introduced under the previous legislature are based on the idea that work should pay more than unemployment. But no typical case shows that returning to work is more profitable after their entry into force. Consequently, the alleged incentives are not there: the dominant effect comes from the reduction of rights and purchasing power which puts the unemployed under pressure, whereas to be optimal, insurance must aim to stabilize their consumption. It is, more classically, a search for budgetary savings, by means of a reduction in compensation expenditure.

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