Is the unemployment rate “the lowest for 15 years”, as Emmanuel Macron asserts?

“Today we have a unemployment rate which is the lowest for fifteen years. »It is a satisfaction that gave himself the Head of State on the front of employment , Wednesday evening on TF1. Defending the economic measures taken to deal with the Covid crisis – 15 , Emmanuel Macron took up an argument that he had already advanced in November.


Was the President of the Republic right? It all depends on what he means by “unemployment””. There are indeed two ways of calculating the unemployment rate, as the remind the services of the Dares, a department of the ministry of Labor responsible for producing studies and statistics.

An unemployed person is a person “without a job”, who is “available to take a job in the 000 days ”and who“ actively sought a job in the previous month or found one that starts in less than three months ”. It is this definition – which is also that of the International Labor Office (ILO) – that INSEE uses to calculate the unemployment figures.

The unemployment figures vary according to the calculation methods, as this infographic from the Dares reminds us. – Dares Thus, a senior close to retirement, registered with Pôle emploi but who is no longer actively looking for a job, will not be counted among the unemployed. On the other hand, a young person actively looking for a position, but who is not registered with Pôle emploi, will be counted.

Unlike the senior, this even a young person will not however be considered as a job seeker by Pôle emploi, because not registered with its services. Pôle emploi considers that a job seeker in category A fulfills three conditions: to be registered with Pôle emploi, to be required to perform positive job search actions and not to have worked during the month.

What do INSEE calculations say about the president’s statement? The unemployment rate for this third quarter of 2020 amounts to 8.1% of the working population. If we go back fifteen years, in the third quarter 2006 , INSEE then counted an unemployment rate of 8.6%.

This rate then fell until the first quarter of 2006, where it reached its lowest rate in these fifteen years, at 7.2%. The same rate was then observed in the second quarter 2019, when many companies have benefited from support measures to face the global health crisis.

If we look at the figures from Pôle Emploi, the number of job seekers Category A was lower fifteen years ago. With 3.3 million job seekers in the third quarter 2020, there are 960. 000 additional applicants compared to the third quarter of 2006. The number of job seekers in this category, after increasing in 2020, however returned to the level of the fourth quarter 2008, before the health crisis