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From catering to health, who are these 3 million French people paid the minimum wage?

“The minimum wage in France is not enough.

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From catering to health, who are these 3 million French people paid the minimum wage?

“The minimum wage in France is not enough.” This criticism of the minimum wage is not the work of a union spokesperson, but of a major French boss, Florent Ménégaux, president of the Michelin group. The French tire giant has implemented a “decent salary” for all of its 132,000 employees across the planet. In France, no employee of the Clermont-Ferrand group is paid the minimum wage, which today amounts to 1766.92 euros gross per month (1398.70 euros net). A policy that goes against the current trend of increasing the number of employees paid at the minimum wage level in France.

The latest data available dates from January 1, 2023. These figures from Dares, the statistical department of the Ministry of Labor, show that on that date, 3.1 million private sector employees (excluding agriculture) were paid at the level of the minimum wage in France (excluding Mayotte). Or 17.3% of employees, after 12% in 2021 and 14.5% in 2022. A “historically high level, exceeding by 1 point the highest value observed since 1991 (16.3% of employees concerned in 2005) », noted the Group of Experts on the minimum wage in its last annual report in November 2023. A phenomenon directly linked to the numerous revaluations of the minimum wage which have occurred over the last three years, caused by inflation. “The minimum wage was increased seven times from January 1, 2021 to May 1, 2023 with a cumulative increase of 13.5%,” indicated the Group of Experts on the minimum wage last year.

Who are these approximately 3 million minimum wage earners? Mostly women (1.8 million, or 57.3%), although they represent less than half of French employees overall (45.2%). And who work more part-time. “Employees paid close to the minimum wage are twice as likely to hold part-time jobs as all employees,” we read in the latest report from the Group of Experts on the minimum wage. Thus, 38.3% of part-time employees are paid at the minimum wage level, compared to 12.4% of full-time employees.

Also read: Has France really become “smicardized”, as Gabriel Attal says?

If we look at the company level, we find many more minimum wage employees in very small companies: 26.8% in those with 1 to 9 employees, compared to 15% in companies with 10 or more employees. Thus, almost three out of ten employees (29.4%) paid the minimum wage work in a very small company (VSE, from 1 to 9 employees), which is more than what these companies represent among employees in the non-agricultural private sector ( 21.2%). Dares also notes that the proportion of employees on minimum wage “tends to decrease with the size of the company: it ranges from 32.4% for those with 1 employee to 10.6% for those with 500 employees or more ".

By sector of activity, it is in accommodation and catering that the share of minimum wage employees is the highest (39.8%), ahead of “administrative and support service activities” (35.3% ). The share of beneficiaries of minimum wage workers is also significant in health (25.5%), “other service activities” (26.6%), as well as in commerce (22.5%). And if we go into even more detail, by professional branch, more than half of the employees in fast food (65%), personal services (57.3%), and service providers are paid the minimum wage. tertiary sector services (52.1%) and cleaning companies (51.8%).

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