Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
Jerome, I have been reading your posts about the CPE, and I admit that many of the facts and figures you provide are slowly weaning me off the kool-aid and turning me back to jus de cassis.

In particular, I was surprised to see that much data supporting the positive effects on growth and jobs that the Jospin 5-year "emplois jeunes" plans and the 35-year work week may have had in the 1999-2003 period (e.g. the OECD graphs in French employment and unemployment, the graph in Private sector job growth, your tidbit, the statistics you cited from Couvrat's article, and these two graphs, which like Agnes, I appreciated for their succinctness. ;-)  )

Having said that, I am far less persuaded by one point/figure you keep on bringing up, namely that

the active young population is very small in France, thus making the unemployment rate (the ratio of the number of unemployed to the active population) high despite the fact that the ratio of unemployed to the overall youth population is not markedly different than in other countries (right column below).

which you support must emphatically with the figures in Less than 8% of French youth unemployed!.

I may be missing something fundamental here, but arguing that things are not that bad for young French people because only 8% of them are unemployed, when 60% of them are in school, does not reassure me that the situation is not bad.

On the contrary, I think the relevant figure is not the 8% proportion de jeunes au chomage, but rather the 22.6% unemployment rate.  And the reason is, if I am finishing my studies in France and I am under 25, it wouldn't really make me feel better to know that only 1 out of 5 of my peers (i.e. young people who want to work now) actually has a job.  As far as I am concerned, the 60% of my age group that are still in school are irrelevant.  In fact, it would be very easy to reason that the reason so many young people are in school (I assume even after 22 years old), is that they are pessimistic about being able to find a job (though I am totally open to being corrected on this point.)

At any rate, I looked at the numbers for the U.S in 2005.  The percentage of active youth in the U.S. is 66.2%, versus 34.5% in France.  Furthermore, the unemployment rate among active youth under 25 years of age in the U.S. was 11.3%, exactly half of the percentage in France.  These figures indicate pretty starkly to me two things:

(1) A larger of those that want to work actually can find work.

(2) And a larger percentage of young people choose to work earlier in the U.S. than in France

Is it not reasonable to suspect that perhaps (2) is true because of (1)?

Let me repeat that I find much, if not most of the other points you make about the French system (of which I know very little) quite persuasive.  But this point has been a stickler for me every time you repeated it, and finally I just had to bring it up!

Thanks,
Ken

Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire

by marco on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 11:22:41 PM EST
It is dangerous to take United States employment data at face value.  Anecdotally the definition of "employment" is to be considered.  As unemployment figures are easily and regularly jiggered by US politicians it is helpful to  check for the more culturally meaningful statistic of "underemployment" wherin an individual is working for very low wages and generally for a low number of hours.  This is also defined as a skilled and/or educated worker employed out of their area of skill or level of education (Economics phd's managing McDonalds, for example).

This matter of underemployment expects to be greater in the US than it is in France due to the solid French social protection network and solidarity.  In the United States one must take any kind of paying-work the moment one's "unemployment insurance" finishes it's course.  US unemployment pays in the ballpark range of 40-60% of active net wages for a period of 6-9 months at most post-termination, and is only available to those who have been fired "without cause."

The figures for "unemployment" in the US are based on the percentage of people actually collecting these payments with zero effort to quantify the percentages of people who collect payment in full and leave the rolls, to US figures they are treated the same as one who has attained employment again.

In reality these people move from "unemployment" to "underemployment"  This is necessary for survival, food, housing, health care, all things not covered by United States society for the unemployed.  Naturally low-paying, minimum-wage and generally part-time jobs in the US (formerly "McJobs," now more apt to be Waljobs or Starbucks) do not provide any kind of measurable benefits such as health insurance.  

It is also a trap for the average worker.  Dismissed from gainful, health-insured, full-time employment an American worker signs up to collect unemployment insurance (which they have paid into) while searching for another full-time position.  If times are tough that position will not be found and unemployment insurance runs out.  At this time the worker must accept whatever sources of income are immediately available and then enters an "underemployment" scenario with hopes of delaying inevitable bankruptcy and starvation a bit longer while hoping for "things to turn around" and gainful employment to once again present itself.

The worker in this scenario slaves away at often difficult, tiring and depressing work for practically zero pay, generally racking up excessive debt at high interest rates in order to maintain a bare standard of living.  During this time the worker is not generally enrolled in job-training, school or even able to devote much time to the pursuit of better employment.

This treadmill is REALITY in the current US employment market and it is appaling that anyone would take seriously the prospect of unleashing it upon their own culture.  There are simply no upsides.

by paving on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 02:24:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm afraid that your analysis of the statistics is flawed: this diary goes through it in some detail.

In fact the Bureau of Labour Statistics does measure the number of "discouraged" workers and lots of other things: the U-6 number here includes underutilised labour. It's at 9% or so.

The BLS national figures for unemployment are not based on the numbers collecting unemployment insurance. At the state level that might be true.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 08:21:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am certain those numbers are absolute bollocks.
by paving on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 12:33:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A cursory google search of "flawed BLS methodology" with an additional tag of "unemployment" can greatly assist your research into the matter.

Taking US Govt. statistics at any kind of face value is a bit like taking Nazi Party statistics on Jewry at face value.  

Perhaps the easiest to breakdown demonstration of statistics in the USA is the Nielson television ratings.    A fundamentally manufactured statistic that is incredibly wrong and consistently leads to "incorrect" decisions based on objective data is the accepted standard because THOSE IN POWER TO MAKE THESE DECISIONS HAVE AGREED TO ACCEPT ITS BIAS.

This is a mechanism of control, a method of manufacturing consent and a basic tool of propaganda.  

by paving on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 12:40:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let me state that the 22% unemployment rate is real enough, and an issue that needs to be solved. And more generally the lowish employment rate in France (mainly from the lower rates for the old and the young) is surely something that could use reform.

But what's not clear to me yet is how serious the low employment rate of the young is. Is it just because they are studying and do not need to work while studying, because it's free? Or is it that they are studying long than they'd want because they cannot find work?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 02:34:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
if I am finishing my studies in France and I am under 25

Let's see ... if the 25-35 years old unemployment rate in France is 9-10%, but the 15-24 unemployment rate is 23%, then this doesn't necessarily mean that there is a major problem that's twice as worse than in the US.

It can just as well mean that people 15-24 who look for a job and can't find one are most probably those that didn't study long enough, the under-qualified. ie. And in a French system where studying is very important, and where 2/3rds of your peers are studying, if you quit your studies too early you'll go pump up that youth unemployment figure. How about this interpretation? Yeah, could work.

We can have all the interpretations in the world ... but it stands that Jérôme's repeat argument is about methodology. If all European countries use the entire age group as the denominator, then France should be doing as much. And if by doing that France obtains a rate comparable to other European countries, but still twice less than the US one, then to me it doesn't mean that France has a problem, particularly when we're told to look at the UK for a model to follow.

What it could mean however is that the US has a problem ... kids don't study enough there, and end up in under-qualified jobs with no benefits or protection => that could be construed as a major problem.
ie. not that (2) is true because of (1), but (2) is true because of (3): "studying late is harder in the US than in France, and finding a cheap job with no protection or benefits is easier in the US than in France". How about that interpretation. Yeah, could work too.

What I'm basically trying to say is that is that there is nothing in the world that can indicate that the 22% figure is good, or bad. No reason to suspect it either. Hell it can even bowl down to some people just being choosy ... who knows. The point is that Jérôme's argument is about methodology, not about interpretation of numbers.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 03:10:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's a bunch of comparable figures from the UK. Real unemployment rate (based on active population), including the 16-24 age group, per ethnic group. I think France's stats would look quite the same for the 16-24 group if they were available. (11% for white youths, 37% for Bangladeshi youths ...).

Source: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/STATBASE/ssdataset.asp?vlnk=6282

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 03:28:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Point taken that Jérôme is making an argument about methodology.

Paving's point also taken that U.S. youth employment numbers probably include many "underemployed" people; it would be interesting to know just what proportion of the total those McJobs constitute.  (I regret, I could not understand very well your statement that, The figures for "unemployment" in the US are based on the percentage of people actually collecting these payments with zero effort to quantify the percentages of people who collect payment in full and leave the rolls, to US figures they are treated the same as one who has attained employment again.)

Also, I agree with Alex that it is quite possible that (2) is true because of (3): "studying late is harder in the US than in France, and finding a cheap job with no protection or benefits is easier in the US than in France".

Nevertheless, as much as I would like to believe otherwise, it seems that France's youth employment lags not only significantly behind that of the U.S., but also that of the U.K., as well as the average of the EU15, if I correctly interpreted the following graph (based on EuroStat, which I admit I don't know anything about):

Is this because EuroStat is in fact using a different denominator for its U.K. and other EU15 numbers (i.e. all, not just active, youth)?  Or is it because there are far more young people working McJobs in the U.K., and other EU15 countries, than in France, bringing up employment numbers by counting underemployement jobs?

If neither of the above is the case, then is there is any other reason why  the unemployment rate among active youth in the U.K. is nearly half of what it is in France?

Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire

by marco on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 06:41:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That graph above looks like the graph for the unemployment rate, i.e. unemployed to active youth population.

It says nothing about employment.

The number in your graph is the ratio of the number on the right column (unemployment to total population) to the sum of the numbers on the left and the right column (employment to total population + unemployment to total population = active population to total population)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 07:37:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, they do indeed look roughly to be the same numbers, at least for France and the UK.  Thanks for pointing that out.

I'm not sure I understand your second point, though:  It says nothing about employment.

I am probably missing something very basic here, but does it not say that the active youth employment rate in U.K. is 88% while in France it is 78%?

Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire

by marco on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 08:00:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It says nothing about employment means that you're missing the information that 55% of UK youth v. 30% of Franch youth are actually employed.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 08:04:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Got it.  Thanks.

Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire
by marco on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 08:09:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I take a less sanguine view of these data [fraction combining work and study]

than both you and Jerome. From what I know about Spain and Denmark, the staggering difference (1.3% v. 62.5%) does not come from the fact that Danish youth need to work to pay for their studies, but that it is socially accepted, encouraged, and the job market supports it. In Spain you'd be hard pressed to find an employer (and a school) with schedules allowing a student to work to pay for their education, or to be able to afford moving out of their parents' home.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 07:01:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean, when Jerome says
As Pfaff points out, one of the reasons for this is that French students have less of a need to work while they are studying:
I have to disagree. I did not need to work while I studied, but in that I think I was somewhat privileged. What is the situation like in France for the banlieu youth? Are they forced out of higher education because of the need to work, and then find themselves against the 22% (active) youth unemployment?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 07:23:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is dangerous to take United States employment data at face value.

It may also be dangerous to take French employment data at face value as well.  I asked a French friend of mine what she thought about the CPE debate and the comparative employment numbers among youth in various countries.  Her reply was:

Vrais chômeurs, faux étudiants...
On pourrait aussi ajouter aux jeunes chômeurs inscrits à l'ANPE ceux qui ne
le sont pas :
1) Parce qu'ils n'ont jamais travaillé et donc n'ont pas droit aux
allocations-chômage
2) Parce qu'ils s'inscrivent pour la 5e fois en 2e année de Deug de psycho
parce qu'ils savent qu'ils ne trouveront pas de travail.
Je pense qu'on obtiendrait un total supérieur bien supérieur aux 22% (ou
30%) officiels !

[Roughly:]
Fake students, but actually unemployed...
You could also add to the number of unemployed youth who are registered at the ANPE [Agence nationale pour l'emploi (I am guessing that would be France's equivalent to the U.S. Department of Labor)] those who are not registered because:

  1. they have never worked before and so are not eligible for unemployment benefits
  2. they reenroll for the 5th time in the second year psychology because they know that they won't find any work (I guess "Deug" is some mainstream college level track, though I am not sure... I should read up on that "Grandes Ecoles" thread).
I think you would come up with a total that is much higher than the official 22% (or 30%)!

I don't know if 1) is true, and even if it were, would it add many more people to the number of unemployed?  Perhaps those are part of the "Autres inactifs (ni scolarisés, ni inscrits a l'ANPE)" in the graph from Jerome's post.

But what's not clear to me yet is how serious the low employment rate of the young is. Is it just because they are studying and do not need to work while studying, because it's free? Or is it that they are studying long than they'd want because they cannot find work?

My friend's second point indicates that it is not altogether unrealistic that a significant number of French youths do indeed stay in school simply because they are so pessimistic about their job prospects.  (Incidentally, is it really true that you can keep enrolling over and over in school, at no extra cost, even after you have done so far more than the average?  Do you have to intentionally fail your courses in order to be reaccepted?  I wonder if she is not talking about an extremely small percentage of students.)

Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire

by marco on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 07:40:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
a significant number of French youths do indeed stay in school simply because they are so pessimistic about their job prospects
It is also the case in the US that, when there is an economic downturn, young people just go to grad school, and take student loans which accrue no interest while you're a student, you only have to pay once you're employed, and sometimes get bought out by the government (for instance, if you choose to become a high school teacher when there's a shortage, as was the case in California recently).

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 07:52:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
About 1), the important point is that the official job agency, the ANPE, is a walking catastrophe, and, if a government were serious about dealing with unemployment (which undoubtedly is a problem in France, no one here is denying that), it would completely shake up and redefine the tasks of that agency. However, if a young person is looking for a job, they will sign up there even if they don't have a right to benefits, since the ANPE gives you official job-seeker status and may open the way to vocational training programmes. Some may not bother, but I don't know if the number would be all that significant.

On people not included in the workforce (and not in school), I think the largest group is composed of women bringing up a child or children. See Alexandra in Wmass's diary Graphic statistics for a useful graph.

Someone else will have to answer about 2), whether you can go on for years signing up for the same course at college, though I suspect it's not that easy to do. This is not to say there are not young French choosing to do further courses and diplomas because they feel their job chances are slim, far from it. Mostly, I think they are in fact trying to get the diploma, not flunk out to waste time.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 09:22:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Top Diaries

Occasional Series