...Continued from page 1

The radio station I use as an alarm clock is France Info and it is really annoying; I mean it wakes me up, with invariably bad news. One of the items they have are announcements of offers from various métro Tuleries in rain branches of the government employment agency.

Imagine this: 'wanted; tri-lingual secretary with at least two years of experience, knowledge of Word and Excel, willing to work long hours, for a six-month contract. Salary: 7,000 francs a month.

Granted that Word and Excel didn't exist in the early '80's; but I remember that being a tri-lingual secretary used to be worth over 10,000 francs a month, on a indefinite contract.

Opposite to the falling income side are the rising taxes. The rate of ordinary income hasn't gone up; but new taxes have been added: the CSG and the RDS, two little obscure percentages that brought the state an extra 21.5 billion francs last year. Rising tax on fuel for cars brought the state another extra 100 billion francs since 1993.

Then there is the biggest bite of all, the TVA; the value-added tax. As Eurotime approaches, France will probably have to lower its rates to bring it into line with its partners, but until then the top rate of 20.6 percent applies to just about everything you buy.

The combination of falling starting wages and rising taxes, is not a happy prospect for young people here. Because of high trees in the rain unemployment, government schemes allow employers to take on young people for fixed periods, and pay them only three-quarters of the minimum wage. At the end of the fixed period they are let go, and new ones are engaged.

Eight months after graduation with a Bac 'Professional,' a young person has only a 50.5 percent chance of getting a job. After five years, this raises to 83.9 percent. Net starting salary for a young man with a Bac 'Professional' is 6,230 francs a month; for a young lady with the same qualification it is only 5,550 francs.

The unemployment rate for young men is 21.1 percent and for young ladies it is nearly 30 percent. In the 16-25 age group there are 380,000 'inactives.' This means they are not in school, in the army, apprenticing, employed, or registered as unemployed.

According the government statistics, the purchasing power of people under 25 has fallen 16 percent in the period from 1984 to 1994. Considering what inflation has done, rising taxes, and the fall of starting salaries; I'd guess that '16 percent' is a modest estimate of decline.

Report from the US

Tuesday's International Herald Tribune had a top-left front page story about how US campuses have been stormed by recruiters this spring, and they are still in action trying to wrap up the hold-outs or the crumbs.

Tuesday's Le Parisien headline told about the 10-year slide of purchasing power, so I read some of their stories in detail. Starkly put, a 21 year-old accounting graduate in the US can get an annual salary of $35,000 and at the same time say that 90 percent of his fellow students got jobs.

A French student with a brand-new 'DEUG' could only say that 71 percent of his classmates got jobs within eight months of leaving school, and starting salary was about 7,000 francs a month. That's about 14,700 dollars a year.

After paying rent and the TVA on everything, that leaves enough pocket money to eat out once a month - unless one feels like setting something aside to pay income taxes. They are not deducted at the source.

Sports News is Suspended

For the duration of the tennis matches at Roland Garros; for the simple reason that these matches always cause the weather to turn excessively gloomy.


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