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The serious shortage of private jobs in France

Thursday 22 August 2013, by Nathalie DROAL

The present study refines previous studies comparing French private employment with the British and the German ones. Confirming previous studies, we see that those two countries have 20 to 35% more private jobs. This difference reflects in compulsory levies, whether on individual or companies, which penalize the competitivity of the French economy.

Counting private jobs

For equal population, France have a shortage of 7 millions private jobs with Germany and 4 millions with the United Kingdom. For 100 private jobs in France, they are 136 in Germany and 121 in the United Kingdom. We find this result simply with the removal of public jobs from total employment in each country.

2010FranceGermany United Kingdom
Total employment [1] 25,7 38,7 28,9
Public employment (state owned enterprises excluded) 6,3 [2] 4,4 [3] 5,7 [4]
Private employment 19,4 34,3 23,2
Private employment with equal population [5] 19,4 26,3 23,5
Private employment with France base 100 100 136 121

If only we had 4 or 7 million more private jobs, our national budget deficit would not exist because of increased tax revenues.

Taking into account part-time jobs

There are approximately 26% part-time jobs in Germany and in the UK compared to only 18% in France [6] . To neutralize a possible bias, we converted private hours worked to full-time equivalent, but it does not change the comparison : there is a difference of more than 30% between France and its neighbours.

The number of hours worked in the UK appears quite high compared to Germany : possibly that is due to a lower productivity in the UK.

Total hours worked [7] 37 976 54 543 47 811
Total hours worked with equal population 37 976 43 136 49 868
Hours worked in private sector, with equal population [8] 28 650 38 199 39 986
Hours worked in private sector, with France base 100 100 133 140
Private employment in full-time equivalent [9] , with equal population 16,1 21,5 22,5

Higher inactivity rate in France

Higher public jobs rate and higher unemployment correspond to only part of our private jobs deficit. Our higher inactivity rate is actually the main explanation. And for most of these inactive people, they do not want to work. The table below compares the distribution of working age population for the 3 countries:

2011FranceGermany United Kindgom
Full-time employment 53 54 52
Voluntary part-time employment 8 15 15
Involuntary part-time employment [10] 3 3 3
Unemploymnet 6 5 6
Inactive people wanting to work 3 4 6
Inactive people not wanting to work 27 19 18

To be precise, French inactivity rate is higher for people between 15 and 24 years old and between 55 and 64 years old [11] . For young inactive people, we presume they are more likely full-time dedicated to their studies. For older people, Eurostat data show that in average people retire at 60 years in France, 62 years old in Germany and 63 years old in the UK [12] . Overall, French people work 3 years less in life than in Germany and 4 years less than in the UK 2010 [13] .

Unemployment is only the tip of the iceberg. Inactive people are the hidden part.

Part-time jobs : a strength for Germany and the UK

Close examination of the data show that with equal population the number of full-time jobs is the same in France, Germany and the UK. The number of involuntary part-time jobs is the same as well.
There is a difference in the number of voluntary part time jobs, which is far higher in Germany and the UK than in France.

We therefore observe that part-time jobs are not a handicap but on the contrary a strength for the economy. It enables a bigger employed population and consequently a better competitivity.

[1Eurostat data, 15-74 years old population.

[2Civil service + other public bodies + organizations with predominant goverment funding. Sources : FGE, SIASP, DADS, Recme, Insee ; enquête SAE, Drees. Traitement DGAFP, bureau des statistiques, des études et de l’évaluation.

[3Public employment= general government sector employment = total employment of all government units, social security funds and non-private Non Profit Institutions (NPIs) that are controlled and mainly financed by public authority. http://laborsta.ilo.org/applv8/data/sectore.html

[4See note 3.

[5Eurostat data, population at the 1st of January. For France, we used metropolitan data.

[6Eurostat data.

[7OECD data.

[8Because of unavailable data, presumption is made that average hours worked are the same in public and private sectors.

[9Effective working time on an annual basis for full-time employees in France in 2010 : 1775 hours.

[10Involuntary part-time job : the main reason of part-time job is that the person did not find a full-time job.

[11Inactivity rate for 15-24 years old people in 2010 : France : 60,7%, Germany : 48,7%, UK : 40,8%. Inactivity rate for 55-64 years old people in 2010 : France : 57,7%, Germany : 48,7%, United Kingdom : 40,1. Eurostat data.

[122010 Eurostat data (2009 data for the United Kingdom).

[13Eurostat data. « The duration of working life indicator (DWL) measures the number of years a person aged 15 is expected to be active in the labour market throughout his/her life. »