La fausse panacée de la flexibilité du marché du travail

AMSTERDAM – Compétitivité est devenu le terme économique à la mode de notre époque. Barack Obama l’a martelé lors de son discours sur l’état de l’Union en janvier et les responsables européens, depuis le conservateur David Cameroun en Grande Bretagne jusqu’au socialiste José Luis Zapatero en Espagne en passant par le nouveau ministre de l’économie japonais Kaoru Yosano en ont fait une priorité. Mais à quelle sorte de compétitivité pensent-ils ?

L’ancien directeur de la Réserve Fédérale américaine Alan Greenspan, répondant en septembre 2007 lors d’une interview à la question de savoir si les gouvernements européens devraient libéraliser leurs codes du travail, avait répondu que les lois de protection du travail européennes entravaient de manière significative la performance économique de ces pays, entrainant un chômage élevé chronique à travers le continent. Aux Etats-Unis, les personnes peuvent être licenciées plus facilement que dans n’importe quel autre pays, et le taux de chômage à l’époque était parmi les plus faibles au monde. 

Mais septembre 2007 est bien loin et le chômage américain est aujourd’hui à 9,4%, et non plus à 4,5%. Et selon le successeur de M. Greenspan, M. Ben Bernanke, il n’y a aucune raison de penser que le taux de chômage redescendra à 5% - un niveau généralement considéré comme étant le taux de chômage normal – à court terme.

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