Unemployment still soaring

The yearly increase in unemployment passed the 10% threshold in the Alpes Maritimes

Unemployment in the Côte d’Azur has risen nearly 50% in the past five years. Graphic: Direccte PACA

The numbers are out. In one year, unemployment in the Côte d’Azur rose at a significantly higher rate than the national average. In December, unemployment increased both nationally and locally, despite President François Hollande’s announcement, two months ago, that he had ‘reversed the curve’ of joblessness.

Since January 2013, ‘category A’ unemployment rose 10.4% in the Alpes Maritimes, or nearly twice the national rate of 5.7%. In the Var, it increased by 7.6%. The PACA region overall recorded a 6.5% jump, the 6th highest increase out of 22 regions in Metropolitan France, according to a study by Dares, a State funded research body.

Unemployment in France is divided into categories, category A being the most important one: the number of people registered as unemployed, looking for a job, who aren’t practicing any professional activity. Categories B and C are also registered jobseekers but working part time or as temps, while categories D and E are registered as unemployed but are not actively seeking employment.

In the Var, a total of 80,024 people are registered as unemployed, which is roughly half the population of Toulon. In the Alpes Maritimes it’s closer to 85,000.

The numbers aren’t all bad for the Var, however, as it recorded a 0.1% decrease in category A unemployment during the month of December. But categories A, B and C, when combined, increased by 0.3%. In the Alpes Maritimes, category A increased 0.9% in December, three times more than the national increase of 0.3%.

Unemployment has been steadily on the up since 2008 and has become a major issue in France. Jean-Marc Vittori, columnist at economic newspaper Les Echos, attributed this problem to the complexity of French labour law. “We never tried to simplify employment legislation, which is extremely complex. The French labour law is 3,406 pages long, as opposed to barely over 100 pages in Switzerland.” Social charges are also an issue as they cost employers nearly as much as employee salaries.

Two months ago, President Hollande was proud to announce he had ‘reversed the curve’ of unemployment, as October recorded a category A unemployment decrease of 0.6 nationwide, and 0.4 in the PACA region. Categories B and C rose 0.8% during the same period, however. The following month, unemployment resumed its increase.

Direccte PACA, the regional corporate and employment authority, attributed this dent in unemployment to seasonal jobs such as the vendanges tardives, the late grape-fruit-harvests.

The president is determined to reduce unemployment, which he stated to be his top priority in his 14th January address to the country. As national media has noted, Hollande appears to be moving away from purely socialist policies towards a more centrist approach, as he talked about negotiations with companies to find better solutions for job creation. In a statement on 26th December, he pointed out that though it is still increasing, the rise in unemployment has been slowing down over the past year.

Also published on the Riviera Times Online