Written by Hilary Barnes
Pursuing my curiosity about the French labour market statistics – especially relating to unemployment – I notice that the Eurostat monthly statistics are based on the ILO (European Labour Market Survey) here, using the ILO definition of an unemployed person (has no job, available to work within two weeks, has actively sought work within past four weeks).
When one looks at the German figure for unemployment, 5.4% in June, it is based on the labour market survey (the registered unemployment count is higher at 6.6%).
When one looks at the French figure, 11% in June, it is clearly based on the registered unemployment total from Pole Emploi, the labour exchange system, which in June was 3.279m. The rate has increased 0.6% since the end of last year.
The labour force survey figures for France are gathered monthly (continuously in fact), are published by INSEE, the official office of statistics, on a quarterly basis, but so far only for the final quarter of last year, when the total was 3.65m, or 12.3% of the labour force (29.7m).
If one assumes that the labour market survey rate has increased in step with the increase in the registered unemployment rate, France’s unemployment rate should be about 12.9% in June.
One naturally has the suspicion that France does not report the labour survey figures on a monthly basis to ensure that France makes a better appearance in, among other places, the Eurostat figures.
Of course, it really does not matter which figures are used. They move up and down more or less in step, so for purposes of looking at the general state of the economy one set of figures is as good as the other and for the French administration’s purposes the registered figure is perhaps more useful.
But the present practice does misrepresent the situation in France as compared with the other figures in the Eurostat reports (on the other hand I have not sorted through the methodology for all 28 to find how many other countries report figures that are not based on the labour market survey).
As it is, France comes in as 16th on the Eurostat list (starting from the low end) and at 11.0% – it is almost exactly on the EU average of 10.9% in June. If my labour market survey supposition were to be correct, France would come in at 22nd place, just ahead of Belgium, 12.6%, and just below Ireland, 13.5%.
- The International Labour Organization
- Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques, France