November black for industry, penalized by strikes and "yellow vests"

The end of the year proves difficult for the French industry. According to figures released Thursday by INSEE, manufacturing output fell 1.4% in November. Erasing the rise of the same magnitude observed a month earlier. Taking into account energy, activity in the industry as a whole posted a decline of 1.3%.

Year-on-year, the decline also reaches 1.4%, says INSEE, which compares the last three months available at the same period of the previous year. All sectors are ill-oriented except for capital goods.

Strike at Total

The decline in activity in France surprised economists who anticipated rather a stagnation for a month of November marked by the beginning of the movement of "yellow vests", but also a week of strikes in some refineries Total group.

At the time, several French sites of the company had been blocked to protest against the group's salary policy on the eve of the opening of annual negotiations.

The details of the figures published by INSEE show the impact of these blockages: a 10.6% drop in production in coking and refining.

There is also probably a "yellow vests" effect whose movement at the time was also characterized by blockages of refineries, but also shopping centers, which resulted in wider benefits.

In any case, the decline in activity affects many sectors. Over the month of November, production decreased by 2% in capital goods (after a rise of 3.8% in October) and 1.6% in the category called "other industries".

This includes, in particular, chemicals (where production fell by 3.2%), but also metallurgy (-2.1%), pharmaceuticals (-3.8%), textiles and clothing (-2%). , 5%).

The transport sector spared

In the end, only the transport sector recorded an increase in its activity. It reached 1.2% in November, driven not by the automobile (-4.9%) but by "other transport equipment" (+ 4.9%) which includes the manufacture of boats and railway equipment but also aeronautics and space.

For its part, production is stabilizing in the agro-food industries, still explains INSEE.

A bad month for European industry

French industry is not the only one to record a negative performance in November. The publication of INSEE figures came 48 hours after those of Destatis, who reported a 1.9% drop in industrial activity in Germany. This bodes ill of the European indicator that Eurostat will publish on January 14th.

Claude Fouquet