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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Chômage : pourquoi le gouvernement nous ment

by Matthieu Alexandre

Unemployment: Why the Government Is Lying to Us.

Translated Sunday 5 September 2010, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Bill Scoble

After a spectacular launch of the 2012 campaign for the French presidency with the dismantling of the first Rom camps, the new unemployment figures permit the government to celebrate.

Christine Lagarde is in the vanguard. Unemployment has continued its slow ebb in the second quarter of 2010, following encouraging signs at the beginning of the year. The figures are formal, the unemployment level as defined by the International Labor Organization (ILO) has dropped from 9.5% to 9.3% in metropolitan France and from 9.9% to 9.7% in the overseas départements. In other words, a 0.2 percent fall. Nothing more was required to open wide the floodgates of shameless self-satisfaction.

“The recent changes in employment and unemployment bear clear witness to the positive effects of the policy conducted by the government,” hammered our minister of the economy. It is matter for happiness.

But as is often the case with this government, you have to dig deeper to understand the figures. According to the French national institute of statistics and economic studies, this fall masks the fall in open-ended job contracts and a rise in temporary work contracts: the percentage of people working under a temporary job contract or for a temporary work agency in the 15-64 age group has risen from 6.4% in the first quarter to 6.6% in the second, whereas the percentage of people working under an open-ended job contract has continued to fall and hit 49.0% for the same age group. It must be noted that the fall in open-ended job contracts began in the middle of 2008.

Five days before the big demonstration of September 7 over the raising of the retirement age, the Sarkozy government grasps at the slightest opportunity to boast of its actions. And, from the point of view of free-trade capitalism, one can understand its enthusiasm. Job security is disappearing from France at high speed.

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