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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Chômage : baisse en trompe-l’œil

by Stéphane Aubouard

Deceptive Fall in Unemployment

Translated Monday 14 October 2013, by Gene Zbikowski

After increasing for 27 consecutive months, August’s fall in the number of job-seekers is due above all to a fall in the number of people registering at the jobs agency.

Is the government winning on the unemployment front? The latest unemployment figures might almost lead you to believe so – for the first time since April, 2011, the number of workers registered at Pôle emploi has fallen, with 50,000 fewer job-seekers in August, just in the “A” category (people who haven’t worked at all in the course of the month). Better yet, it’s the biggest fall in the past 13 years!

The only problem is that there’s a fly in the ointment: “There was an unusually large rise in the number of people struck from the lists (…) because they failed to renew their registration,” the Labor Ministry explains, with a 38.8% increase over July, i.e. an additional 77,500 jobless workers struck from the lists.

According to Marion Cochard of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), “without that enormous jump, there would still have been a rise of 10,000 to 20,000 more job-seekers,” compared, it is true, to an average increase of 40,000 job-seekers a month since the beginning of François Hollande’s five-year term as president.

For the CGT trade union confederation, this fall in unemployment is deceptive and just masks the reality of an ineffective austerity policy. “Unemployment has shot up by 7.3% in a year, a historically high level, especially among young and old workers,” the CGT explained, with industry alone shedding 20,000 jobs since the start of the year. And it isn’t the forecasts of 0.2% to 0.5% growth which promise a fall in joblessness in the long term.

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