Employment news in France in 2022: key figures and data

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2022 was greeted with great hope and enthusiasm after more than 18 months of a health crisis that resulted in a general slowdown in economic activity. From time to time, many people have lost their jobs and many industries have been paralyzed due to various measures taken to deal with the crisis. But has employment improved in 2022? In this article, we will look at some important facts to keep in mind for an objective analysis of the situation as we wrap up the first quarter of 2022.

Unemployment fall at the end of 2021

In the fourth quarter of 2021, the unemployment rate fell by 0.6 points to 7.4% of the active population in France (excluding Mayotte), according to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Research (INSEE). This means a decrease in the number of unemployed, as defined by the ILO, by 189,000 people compared to the previous quarter, to 2.2 million people. Figures indicating the beginning of a recovery in economic activity and the upcoming improvement in the employment situation. Thus, 2022 should allow us to get closer to pre-crisis levels (end of 2019).

Also according to INSEE, in the fourth quarter of 2021, there was a sharp decline in the youth unemployment rate (-3.6 points), while among people aged 25 to 49 it fell by 0.3 points. However, it remains stable for people aged 50 and over. Overall, during the quarter, women experienced a much sharper drop in unemployment (-0.8 points) than men (-0.4 points).

Good prospects for 2022

We can say that the first months of 2022 confirmed this downward trend in the unemployment rate. This is at least what we can learn from the data released by the Ministry of Labor on February 25, 2022 on the employment situation in France. According to these data, unemployment in France decreased by 0.9% from December 2021 to January 2022 and by 7.7% for the year, that is, 461,900 fewer people looking for work. In January 2022, according to Dares, the number of unemployed in France (excluding Mayotte) was 5546 million. Thus, a significant decrease for all age and gender categories compared to the previous year.

This labor market dynamism is confirmed by the gradual move away from short-term work, and the volume of online job offers is quite close, and in some sectors even exceeds pre-crisis levels. Naturally, the resumption of activities in sectors such as accommodation and catering, trade, cultural activities, logistics activities and personal services is not alien to this state of affairs.

It is safe to say that we are inexorably striving for more than a certain stabilization of the labor market in the coming months. According to INSEE, we can expect 321,000 additional paid jobs to be created this year to return to pre-crisis levels by the end of the year.

Still laborious recovery

With the phasing out of aid to businesses to cushion the shock of the Covid-19 crisis, recovery in many sectors promises to be labor intensive, to say the least. Various companies also faced difficulties in early 2022, with some facing bankruptcy risk. In this fierce struggle to keep themselves as good as possible, workers tend to be the first to pay the price. This is the observation of Thomas d’Ahn, who is seeing more and more unjustified layoffs during coaching exchanges. This reality could be the reason for the positive dynamics shown in the numbers, even if INSEE reinforces the prospect of a positive job creation/destruction rate at the end of the year.

Moreover, with the health pass, which has caused much controversy among the working population, several thousand French people have been placed in a situation of occupational insecurity. By refusing to be vaccinated, many people have been forced to quit their jobs to consider retraining. Ultimately, this should lead to an increase in the number of job seekers, according to a rather mixed estimate at the end of the year.

Difficulty recruiting in some sectors

While the recovery has brought a breath of fresh air to the economy, many companies are having difficulty recruiting in certain very specific sectors. This is mainly observed at the level of high-tech professions, in particular engineering, logistics, construction and IT professions. Indeed, an estimated 78% of companies report difficulties in recruiting IT professionals.

In addition, the new opportunities associated with the crisis and, above all, the recovery in activity mean that companies must invest more in retaining talent. Especially at the level of managers and some of the technical profiles currently in high demand in the market, efforts must be made to offer attractive working conditions and remuneration. This adds to the list of business challenges today, with new aspirations to consider in a shrinking market.

In short, the employment news in France sends many interesting signals, between falling unemployment driven by a globally positive job creation/destruction ratio, and plenty of opportunities to reopen in all sectors. However, challenges remain for both companies and a certain category of employees (non-executives), who must be provided with appropriate solutions in order to maintain a good momentum for a gradual return to the pre-crisis situation. This approach requires government assistance to ensure that companies maintain good levels of performance over time.

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