Employment: the “great resignation”, a phenomenon to be put into perspective in France


The number of resignations in France? At the highest, without being new or unexpected given the economic context still conducive to employment, and therefore to labor movements. This is the finding of the Statistics Department of the Ministry of Labour, Dares, in a short study published on Thursday. Supporting figures, the study dismisses the parallel with the “great resignation” described in the United States since the Covid, even relativizing the phenomenon across the Atlantic.

At the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, 520,000 people voluntarily terminated their employment contract per quarter, of which 470,000 were on permanent contracts. Previous records dated back to early 2008 with 510,000 resignations, including 400,000 for CDIs alone.

Although very high, the current figures must be put into perspective by relating them to the number of employees. The rate thus obtained stands at 2.7% over the first quarter in France, the highest since the financial crisis of 2008-2009, but below the level just before (2.9%). In companies with 50 or more employees, it stands at 2.1%, among the highest since 1993 but lower by 0.2 points than that observed in the early 2000s.

In the United States, the resignation rate is also high at the end of 2021, without being unprecedented, adds Dares. At 3% in December, it is at its highest since the year 2000. Except that in the manufacturing industry, the phenomenon is of the same magnitude as in the early 1950s, or in the 1960s and 1970s.

The ball in the employees’ court

An employee being more tempted to look elsewhere in the expansion phase and to stay warm in the event of a crisis, the increase in the number of resignations “therefore appears to be normal” in the current context of the dynamism of the labor market, concludes the Dares. As a reminder, the workforce in the private sector increased by more than 100,000 in the second quarter, according to a provisional estimate from INSEE.

Better, this record of ruptures at the initiative of the employee does not reflect a phenomenon of massive withdrawal from the labor market. This is evidenced by the employment rate which, even excluding the self-employed and apprentices, is slightly above its pre-crisis level, at 57.1%.

Another reason to put the situation into perspective, the unequaled level of recruitment difficulties creates opportunities for employees in post and therefore more numerous poaching between employers, as is the case in the United States. In France, the first analyzes by Dares show that those who resigned are quickly employed: around 8 out of 10 resigned from permanent contracts in the second half of 2021 were in the six months that followed, i.e. the same proportion as before the crisis. sanitary.

Ultimately, the bargaining power has clearly shifted in favor of employees, which may encourage higher wages. In addition to this potential effect on wages, surveys show that “at the start of 2022, some companies are making concessions on the conditions or organization of work (teleworking) or on the form of employment contracts to retain or attract employees”, underlines the Dares.

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