Decline in the unemployment rate to 8% by the end of 2020

The unemployment rate fell sharply, to 8% in the fourth quarter of 2020 against 9.1% in the third, returning to its pre-crisis level (8.1%), but this decrease is “Partly in trompe-l’oeil” according to INSEE that a number of people have given up looking for a job because of the second confinement.

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To be unemployed within the meaning of the International Labor Office (ILO), it is indeed necessary to have carried out a job search process during the last four weeks and to declare oneself available within two weeks to take up a job.

“These two behaviors, availability and research, were more or less affected by the limitations of movement of people and by the perception that the latter had of the possibilities offered on the labor market in this period of health crisis”, explains INSEE.

The effects of re-containment

Admittedly, the fall in unemployment over the quarter stems primarily from the rise in the employment rate, which continued to recover over the quarter (+0.6 point) even “If it is to be put into perspective by the decline in hours worked per job”.

“But, as in the second quarter, the fall in unemployment is also partly trompe l’oeil : due to the second confinement, between October 30 and December 15, a significant number of people have switched to inactivity, notably for lack of being able to carry out active job searches under the usual conditions ”, adds the institute.

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The participation rate fell by 0.2 point over the quarter, and by 0.4 point over one year. Among 15-24 year olds, it fell by 0.9 points over the quarter, a sign that a certain number of them preferred to pursue studies or gave up looking for work. This effect of confinement is however smaller than in the second quarter, when the unemployment rate fell to 7.1%.

All age categories concerned

The fall in the unemployment rate over the quarter concerns all age categories. It is more pronounced for 15-24 year olds (-3.6 points) than for 25-49 year olds (-1 point) and 50 years or more (-0.4 point).

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The unemployment rate is thus lower than its level a year earlier for young people (-1.5 point) and almost at the same level as a year before for their elders (+0.1 point for 25-49 year olds; -0.1 point for 50 years and over).

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