Unemployment falls again, Mauro Poggia storm


Switzerland, paradise island in the middle of an ocean of unemployment. Once again, the September unemployment figures reflect a country in full employment: 2.1% on average Swiss, 3.8% in Geneva, stable compared to August and the lowest in twelve years. Vaud and Neuchâtel are at 3.3%, Freiburg at 2.3% and Valais at 2.1%.

Really? The Geneva State Councilor MCG Mauro Poggia is far from convinced of this. In support of his doubt: the figures of the International Labor Office (ILO), whose method of calculation differs from that of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco), on which Switzerland is based. An old debate that feeds regular political discussions.

The difference between these two indices is enormous. According to the ILO methodology, conducted by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) and used throughout Europe, Geneva peaked at 11.8% unemployment in 2018, against 6.9% in the French Genevois. The ILO figures for the first half of 2019 in Geneva are not yet available and will have fallen, as elsewhere, but they will remain higher than those of Seco.

How to explain it? The Seco rate comes from factual data, it takes into account only the number of registered unemployed. The ILO rate is based on telephone surveys or questionnaires (32,000 people for Switzerland, 2000 for Geneva), and includes all jobseekers – people seeking without registration, persons with intermediate earnings or measures of improvement, the unemployed at the end of rights, the beneficiaries of the social assistance if they are registered with the service of professional reintegration. Its perimeter is however considered too broad, since it goes beyond the retirement age.

Which of the two indices best informs us? "We have a choice between plague and cholera," says Giovanni Ferro-Luzzi, a professor at the University of Geneva. But the two models are not incompatible because the nature of the information is different. The more qualitative ILO approach is used when there is a need for an overview, with richer information about people, their level of training, their previous job. On the other hand, if one wants to disaggregate unemployment by occupation, nationality or age, the Seco database, which is larger and more factual, is better suited. It allows for more precise breakdowns, unlike that of the OFS whose sample is much smaller. "

Time: As the MCG is the anti-border party, you have no interest in unemployment falling in Geneva. Why you prefer the ILO method. Political tactic?

Mauro Poggia: No. Everyone can see many Genevans without work, despite the federal speech that re-bets us full employment. I want the Seco rate to be more precise, but to have a comparative view, we must use the same grid of reading as our neighbors. In doing so, what is observed? In the French Genevois, unemployment is lower (at 6.8%) than in the rest of France and Geneva. It is therefore that the inhabitants of the French Genevois work here. And that's why Geneva has a higher rate than the rest of Switzerland. Since the beginning of the year, Geneva has seen a significant increase in jobs created (+ 2.2%), yet the number of unemployed remains unchanged. These posts were therefore not awarded to the unemployed.

The employer repeats that it prefers to hire residents if it has the opportunity. He lies?

There is a gap between speech and deeds. Following an indiscretion, we learned from Pôle emploi in neighboring France that half of cross-border workers who had lost their job had no particular training. It is therefore wrong to say that we are going to look for trained people in France. On the other hand, the economy also engages overqualified French people with higher wages than they would have at home. The problem is that we have a split view of things. We would like to know who comes to work with us, in what area and for what salary. Without cross-sectional analysis, we can not fight unemployment effectively.

Since last year, sectors of activity where unemployment is higher than 8% must announce vacancies to the Regional Employment Offices (RFOs). Starting next year, the floor will increase to 5%. It's not sufficient?

No. Because the obligation to announce is not the obligation to receive the candidate, let alone to engage him. Seco has not evaluated the real impact of these measures on jobseekers, and for good reason! Their impact is insignificant. We created a gas plant, worse, a disillusion factory. RFOs select candidates that companies have no intention of hiring because they already have people under their arms. In addition, the computer program that must match the offer to the demand is still not suitable. This measure, which was intended as a response to the initiative of 9 February 2014 against mass immigration, is ineffective. It takes an electroshock, otherwise the UDC initiative against free movement is likely to be accepted. I do not want bilateral agreements to fall through the cracks, but it is the danger for Switzerland if companies do not understand that they have to rely on local expertise.

A little easy to discard the economy, right?

I have the unofficial support of employer organizations on the preference for our job seekers. Paradoxically, the least favorable are the unions, whose ranks are inflated by cross-border workers to whom some offer special conditions of membership. The city of Geneva must also make the effort to hire locally, she whose recruitment pool is historically Greater Geneva. For my part, I am considering whether, legally, we could ensure that the obligation to advertise a vacant post is accompanied by the obligation to receive the proposed candidate.

Would not your rant really be a boost to the CWM on the eve of the federal election?

It did not cross my mind. I have been thinking about this issue for a long time, but I did not want to pollute the DFR vote unnecessarily.

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