This is good news, thwarted by the health and social crisis: in 2019, the poverty rate in France, measured by INSEE, according to its leading indicators, fell by 0.3 points, from 14.8 % to 14.5% of the population. Thus, 9.1 million people were living, at the end of 2019, on less than 60% of the median income, or 210,000 less than in 2018, without however returning to the low water level of 2017, at 14.1%. The decline in the poverty rate is all the more remarkable given that the median income, from which it is calculated, itself increased by 3% over the period.
This improvement is the consequence of a drop in unemployment, the dynamism of wages and two measures taken following the movement of “yellow vests”. An exceptional purchasing power bonus (Pepa) of 1,000 euros paid by companies to employees receiving less than three minimum wage benefited 5.2 million of them and cost 2.3 billion euros. The activity bonus has been upgraded and distributed more widely to the working poor.
“Very modest people have seen their income grow faster than the general population, underlines Marine Jeantet, interministerial delegate for the prevention and fight against poverty. This is thanks to the enormous jump in the activity bonus which, in 2019, affected 4.3 million employees, against 3 million the previous year. Of course, these are retrospective and provisional figures which only take into account income, not certain reductions in expenses such as a reduction in energy bills or reimbursement of care by complementary health insurance. “
Rise in bank overdrafts
Mme Jeantet ensures that the government remains “Attentive to the situation of precarious populations”. The health crisis and its consequences, of course, are reshuffling the cards. “We know that active solidarity income expenditure (RSA) will increase both because the current beneficiaries cannot find employment in the context of the health and social crisis and therefore do not leave the system, but also because that there are new entrants, independents, traders who have no safety net in the face of unemployment. “
The government does not take the figure of one million more poor by the end of 2020 but expects an increase. Unemployment figures, still unknown, will probably be high with, in particular, the registration of young graduates at Pôle Emploi. Another worrying sign is that the number of bank overdrafts among the lowest 10% of households is increasing, while the savings of all the others are rising sharply.
Without waiting for these statistics, exceptional aid was released in June 2020 for beneficiaries of social minima (150 euros), personalized housing assistance with at least one dependent child (150 euros then 100 euros per child) and young scholarship holders who lost their job (150 euros). The operation should be renewed on November 27, for families and scholarship students.