Socialists and the left have been fighting for years on jobs issues. They got no reward for it, and nobody seems to care anymore.
In 2018, unemployment fell in France, for the third year in a row. Over one year, the downward trend is confirmed, with a number of unemployed in category A (without activity) down 1.4%. But television, radio and other media were too busy covering the yellow vests protests from Marseille to Paris when the news broke at the end of last week. Barely 60.000 people took the street over the week-end, but they managed to make a lot of noise.
Unemployment is going down, but nobody cares, because nobody knows.
Job creation was discussed every day when François Hollande was president. He committed to fight unemployment each time he spoke, and he worked hard to convince business lobbies to hire more, trading part of companies’ taxes against more jobs. It worked, a bit. But nobody thanked him for that. And to say the least, Socialists do not seem to be able to capitalize on this. They convince a tiny 4 % of voters for next European elections, : less then the Greens and France insoumise.
The problem is still huge: 3,7 million people are unemployed in France, the rate being 8,7%, one of the worst in the EU (the average is 6.7%). But it’s good news that employment has been resilient in 2018, despite train strikes in spring and social unrests by the end of the year.
Yellow vest have turned the spotlights on other problems. Precarious living standards and low purchasing power have become more of an issue now than employment. Maybe they should not. Any economist will tell you that jobs and training still are the best solutions to poverty and revenue inequalities.
And the job issue creates consensus: all the political parties, trades unions and citizens unite on the topic. Getting people jobs is a noble cause, seen from the extreme-left to the extreme-right. This should be a good reason for socialists and left forces to focus on employment -again.