Unemployment insurance: a questionable reform

Unemployment insurance: a questionable reform

Lhe draft unemployment insurance reform, the details of which were presented to the social partners on Monday, November 21, by the Minister of Labor, Olivier Dussopt, aims to vary the duration of compensation according to the orientation of the labor market. work. When unemployment falls, the conditions harden, when it rises significantly, they lighten up.

If the pendulum effect may seem logical, its modalities are debatable and its medium-term effectiveness is not guaranteed.

The government has decided to reduce the duration of compensation by a quarter for all jobseekers whose rights will open from 1er february. Above an unemployment rate of 9% (currently 7.3%) or in the event of a sudden deterioration greater than or equal to 0.8 points over a quarter, the scale will return to that which is applied today . On the other hand, the hardening will come into effect automatically below these thresholds.

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The desire to reform the labor market is fueled by two frustrations. The first: despite a marked improvement over the past five years, the unemployment rate in France remains twice as high as that observed in Germany, the Netherlands or the United Kingdom. The second: despite more than three million job seekers, 360,000 positions remain unfilled.

The reasoning according to which the introduction of a more severe compensation scheme would automatically lead to a reduction in the tensions on the labor market may seem coherent. Its limitation is that it does not rely on any serious and detailed study to demonstrate that the number of unfilled jobs is correlated with the degree of generosity of the unemployment benefit system.

Many factors

The reasons why job offers do not find takers are due to many factors. They may be due to the mismatch between the skills required and the level of training of job seekers, to insufficiently attractive working conditions, to geographic or family constraints.

This is not to deny that people may choose to continue to be compensated instead of accepting an available offer. But it is difficult to generalize and above all to make it the only solution to the problem of recruitment difficulties in certain sectors. Other countries, which have systems with shorter benefit periods, are experiencing the same pressures to hire. The other The question is whether it is fair to tighten the conditions for compensation based on national unemployment figures, when the ability and speed of finding a job depends closely on the specific situation of each employment area.

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This reform rightly arouses union concerns. But its effectiveness can only be judged within the more global framework of the policy currently being pursued to try to put an end to mass unemployment. Many levers are simultaneously activated: reform of the vocational high school, development of lifelong learning and training, end-of-career management, improvement of Pôle emploi’s support capacities, etc.

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While these measures have the merit of consistency, their effects on the labor market risk being disrupted by the looming slowdown in growth. However, the justification for a decline in social gains can only hold if the results on the employment front are very clear at the end of the five-year term. The bet is not won.

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