Joblessness in France is still high, at 9.1%, but the data out this week will not necessarily settle the employment issue. According to Credit Suisse, France ranks number-five globally for the number of millionaires, due to an increase in real estate wealth, financial investment, euro stability and a healthy business climate. Although the reasons for the rise in the number of millionaires vary, Le Figaro Economie points out that the population of wealthy households “rose by 259,000 between mid-2017 and mid-2018, the first year of Emmanuel Macron’s presidency.
“France now has 2,147,000 households with assets (minus liabilities) exceeding one million dollars, a positive outcome after a contraction lasting several years. But the record was actually reached in 2011 and 2014, with 2.6 million millionaire households. According to Credit Suisse’s annual Global Wealth survey, that number is expected to reach 3 million by 2023, almost as high as in Germany.”
Yet the main subject of concern this week is the jobs situation. The business daily Les Echos strikes a reassuring note, reporting that a new employment record has been set: “The number of people hired in the third quarter for periods in excess of one month in the private sector (excluding temporary workers) has risen by 2.7%, according to data published by Acoss, the central agency of social security organisations”. The agency points out that it registered 2.14 million hiring declarations, “the highest quarterly level ever”. The number of declarations has risen 6% year on year, mainly as a result of a 10% jump in open-ended contracts and a smaller, 2.5% increase in fixed-term contracts. This is certainly good news for the government, which can boast that the executive measures it has taken since September 2017 to reform the Labour Code have undoubtedly boosted business confidence by giving companies a bit more flexibility. This is especially true for small and midsized firms which, according to Les Echos, seem to have overcome their “fear of hiring”. That the recruitment drive is ongoing is confirmed by the latest survey from APEC, the executive employment agency. However, APEC’s report stresses that the trend is due to replacement rates rather than business growth. Executive recruitment actually reached an unprecedented level in the third quarter. The report also says that more than 63% of the 100-plus employee companies questioned in September had taken on at least one executive, a three-point rise compared with the previous quarter. That positive result bodes well for a particularly buoyant end-of-year period. “Businesses remain confident,” says APEC. And Les Echos adds: “Fifty-seven per cent of the companies polled in September said they intended to hire at least one executive in fourth-quarter 2018, although, in reality, half of those planning to recruit during that period will do so to replace departing or retiring staff. “Measured year on year, however, the percentage of new hires attributable to business growth is actually smaller”. Another weak spot is the banking industry: “Not all sectors are on the same footing. Executive recruitment in the third quarter rose sharply in the advisory and business services sector, with a steep 18-point increase relative to third-quarter 2017, and in the medical/welfare sector, with a 9-point rise. By contrast, the rises were smaller in the trade and transport sector (up 3 points yoy) and IT (up 1 point). At the same time, though, recruitment plummeted 15 points in the banking and insurance sector, where the outlook is still lacklustre. In sum, this mass of figures barely conceals a real difficulty of hiring in certain sectors. As stated in the APEC survey “a growing number of firms are finding it hard to fill vacancies: 68% of recruitments were reported as ‘difficult’ in first-quarter 2018, compared with 65% a year earlier. The situation is critical in IT (83%) as well as the industrial production (work and jobsites) sector (78%)”. Here’s another puzzling situation. A new generation of executives have a different mindset. The way of perceiving a career as a work path has changed. Co-working will earn the French economy €134 billion next year. So companies will have to make huge efforts to attract and hire new staff. Christian Moguérou