During the first three months of the year, the French economy lost 502,400 net jobs. Mainly in the private sector. This represents a decline of 2% during the first quarter, specifies INSEE. Interim has experienced a historic drop of over 40%. Bruno Le Maire wants to return to a normal level of activity this summer.

Excluding temporary work, employment is declining in all sectors, particularly in market services

If confinement did not officially start until March 17 in France, the impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus was severe on the job market. According to data published this Thursday morning by Insee, Acoss and Dares in fact, during the first quarter the French economy destroyed 502,400 net jobs. This represents a drop of 2% during the first quarter compared to the last three months of 2019, specifies INSEE.

It is above all the private sector that has been affected, since Insee has recorded the disappearance of 497,400 jobs, a fall of 2.5%. This is more than the first estimate of INSEE which, at the beginning of May, estimated that the salaried workforce in the private sector had fallen from 453,800 at the end of March 2020. At the same time, the public sector limited the damage: only 4,900 jobs were destroyed, which represents a decline of 0.1%.

Over one year, the French economy has lost 304,700 jobs (a decline of 1.2%). The losses observed in the private sector (- 317,000) being attenuated by the increase in the number of posts in the public service (+ 12,400).

Historic fall for the interim

The fall is explained above all by the unprecedented collapse of temporary work: 318,000 jobs were destroyed there, which corresponds to a historic drop of 40.4%. “This drop is the most important […] since the first quarter of 1990 ”, when the series began, underlines INSEE. Even during the financial crisis of 2008-2009, the decline had not been as significant, since it had been in the order of 13 to 14%.

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Excluding temporary work, employment fell in all sectors, particularly in market services, where it declined by 1.3%, ie the destruction of 150,300 jobs. “The decline in the first quarter of 2020 cancels out the increases of the previous three quarters and employment in market services excluding temporary work is almost back to its level of the previous year. “

Accommodation and services for particularly affected households

Unsurprisingly, the drop concerns in particular the accommodation and catering sector (−4.4% or 50,600 jobs lost) and that of household services (−2.8% or 37,400 jobs less). The decline was less pronounced in the transport sector (−0.9% or −12,200) and the trade sector (−0.7% or −22,400 jobs).


Industry and construction saw a smaller drop of 0.4%. However, employment in industry had not fallen since the start of 2017 and that in construction had not declined since the end of 2016. “Nevertheless, due to the dynamism of the previous quarters”, l employment in construction is still growing by 1.8% year on year.

In the end, only mainly non-market services limit the breakage with a decline of 0.2%, or still 15,500 lost jobs. However, employment there remains slightly above the level it was a year earlier.

Asked about LCI, the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire declared his wish that “economic activity picks up faster” and “returns to normal this summer”, while the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron must speak Sunday on the continuation of the deconfinement. The Banque de France is more pessimistic since it estimates that the French economy will still be below its normal level of activity at the end of the year.

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