He put the question back at the center of all attention. This Friday, September 9, 2022, when many left-wing personalities met at the traditional Humanity Day, Fabien Roussel did not hesitate to blow in the bronchi of “the left of allowances and social minima”. It is necessary, according to the communist deputy, rather to take the party of the work and the workers. “I prefer to promise everyone a life of work and training rather than a life strewn with precariousness, unemployment and RSA”, he thus declared at the microphone of LCI, reports TF1 on its site. But is there really an incompatibility between the safety net offered by Social Security and the return to work? Explanations.

“I was better paid unemployed than in my current job,” admits a reader of Planet, who prefers to remain anonymous. Intermittent in the show for three years, she explains that she accumulated rights while officiating in a production company. “At the time I received between 2,200 and 2,300 euros net. Then I lost my job in March 2020 and I found myself unemployed until January 2022, approximately”, explains. The back-to-work allowance she received allowed her to receive approximately 1,900 euros net per month until the end of her period of inactivity. “My rights have been extended for a year because of the health crisis”, recognizes the one who has since found a job. “Today, I am paid 1,800 euros net, approximately,” she explains.

What to feed the arguments of those who appear convinced of the inefficiency of our unemployment system? Potentially. But we still have to put this kind of situation into perspective, according to some experts. This is the case of Philippe Crevel, economist and director of the Cercle de l’Epargne. Explanations.

For the economist, the question is more complex than a single testimony might suggest. “The amount of unemployment benefits is calculated in relation to the income or salary that you receive during your period of activity. This amount is lower than what you received then. It has also been capped for more than two years for executives”, he explains, not without acknowledging that it can sometimes happen that it exceeds the sum proposed by some potential future employers. Clearly, we therefore earn less than what we touched, but not necessarily than what we could touch afterwards.

“In practice, this kind of situation happens, but it is the exception, not the rule”, warns the specialist. Another situation, sometimes complementary to the one mentioned above but not always, can also explain this type of case. “Unemployment benefit, depending on its amount, can sometimes be combined with other benefits. The latter being means-tested, it often happens that they are lost when returning to work, which pays better than unemployment. This sometimes generates threshold effects which lead, for the working population, to a loss of income in the end”, confirms Philippe Crevel.

Therefore, should we further harden the French model?

“The unemployment benefit system has been modified several times in recent years. It must be said that it has been tightened. This tightening, however, has also been accompanied by the general drop in the unemployment rate, which is estimated at 7.6% today. We can, therefore, interpret this improvement as partly resulting from this policy. That being said, it would be dishonest not to mention the dynamics in terms of job creation”, observes the entry game the economist, who pleads for a balanced system, both worthy for “those in deprivation of employment” but which does not promote the maintenance of unemployment. “The French system is relatively correct. However, it sins on the support and training of the unemployed”, he believes.

Another problem that cannot not be mentioned: the employment crisis in France. “Devices exist to prevent French men and women from preferring to remain unemployed rather than working. Most of the time, it is those forced into short-term fixed-term contracts and offering low remuneration who are the most affected”, underlines indeed Philippe Crevel. From there to concluding that there is a problem with the attractiveness of employment in France, there is only one step. “Many jobs in the service sector offer poor working conditions or tasks of limited interest, compensated by low pay. This is true in restaurants, for example, but it is far from be the only area concerned. Recruitment difficulties can also be explained in this way”.