the still uncertain effects of the reform

Return to surpluses for Unédic. After a Covid crisis which will have marked the unemployment insurance scheme financially, by almost doubling its debt (from 37 billion euros in 2019 to 64 billion in 2021), the improvement in the economic situation is felt in the accounts, with a projected surplus of 2.5 billion in 2022.

The improvement should continue in the years to come, with 3.1 billion surpluses in 2023 and 4.2 billion in 2024. “The French economy continues to benefit from the positive momentum of the end of the crisis”, assures Christophe Valentie, Managing Director of Unédic.

Admittedly, the slowdown in growth will have an effect, as will the slowdown in job creation. But inflation could play a positive role on unemployment insurance accounts: “It leads to an increase in the payroll, and therefore in our revenues which are based on salaries”, explains Christophe Valentie.

10 billion debt reduction in three years

As a result of this return to surpluses, Unédic can begin to reduce its debt by repaying 1.9 billion euros in debt from 2022. More than half of this sum would be due at the end of the emergency measures (including unemployment partial, which nevertheless remains quite higher than its pre-crisis level), one-third to the improvement in the economic situation and 16% to the reform of unemployment insurance, the last elements of which entered into force in last November.

“Over three years, we are going to get rid of 10 billion euros of debt: two-thirds of this sum will be due to the reform”, recognizes Patricia Ferrand, president of Unédic, where she represents the CFDT. But if the trade unionist can only note the positive effects on the finances of the regime, she remains much more cautious about the consequences on unemployment and, above all, on the unemployed.

“We are sticking to last year’s impact study for now,” she assures. This effectively provided for the savings made, but also for substantial reductions in the compensation of many unemployed people.

A study of the effects of the current reform

In its forecasts for the next few years, Unédic is counting on a stabilization of the number of unemployed people receiving benefits at around 2.4 million and on a gradual drop in the unemployment rate to 7% in 2024. “However symbolic it may be, the percentage of unemployed people receiving benefits says nothing about the possible hidden effects of the reform: even stabilization would not mean that the reform has no impact, insists Patricia Ferrand. This says nothing, for example, about the level of compensation for the unemployed. »

Very slight rise in unemployment in April

A study of the effects of the reform is underway, which will be all the more necessary as unions and employers will soon have to negotiate new compensation rules. The decree which governs unemployment insurance indeed expires at the end of October: the government therefore has by the end of June to send the social partners the framework document which will serve as a basis for negotiation.

“If there are negotiations, we must know the effects of the reform in a rigorous, comprehensive and consolidated way”, therefore believes Patricia Ferrand, supported by its vice-president, Jean-Eudes Tesson, representative of Medef: “For the moment, we can always rediscuss, but would we be able to conclude? » The question of the extension of the current decree is also on the agenda, but it requires an opinion from the Council of State.

“We cannot negotiate under duress”

For the secretary general of the CFDT, Laurent Berger, the way in which the government will consider these negotiations will be symbolic of the “new method” announced by Emmanuel Macron. The social partners were scalded by the previous negotiation, framed in such a way as not to be able to succeed by the government, which then regained control and imposed its reform.

“You cannot negotiate under duress, explained the boss of the CFDT Wednesday, June 8 before the Association of Journalists of Social Information. Negotiation cannot be “here are the ten conclusions you have to come to”. »

For Unédic, there will also be the question of the 19 billion in Covid debt due to the emergency measures decided by the government (in particular partial unemployment). The unemployment insurance scheme considers that it does not have to bear entirely alone the consequences of expenses which, however effective they may have been for employment, are not entirely of its making. One way or another, the state too will have to do its part. The president of Unédic assures us: “On this, the social partners are unanimous! »

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Accounts that are improving

For the next yearsUnédic forecasts an increase in its revenues (42 billion euros in 2022; 42.5 in 2023 and 43.8 in 2024), under the effect of the inflation of the payroll.

Conversely, if job creations stabilize (+ 79,000 in 2022, + 52,000 in 2023; + 80,000 in 2024), unemployment benefits should fall: 33.2 billion in 2022; 32.8 in 2023, 32.6 in 2024.

Hence a positive account balance (+2.5 billion in 2022, +3.1 billion in 2023 and +4.2 billion in 2024) and gradual debt reduction (61 billion in 2022, 58 in 2023 and 53.7 in 2024) which should even prevent Unédic to have to borrow in the coming years.

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