A backlash. After a break linked to Covid, the number of business leaders who became unemployed reached a high in 2023. According to figures made public this Monday by the Altares firm and the GSC association, 51,555 bosses lost their jobs. job last year after their company went into liquidation. A jump of 33.3% in one year (12,800 people), but above all never seen since 2016, a period marked by a difficult economic and financial context. In 2023, more than 140 business leaders will find themselves unemployed every day.

For Anthony Streicher, president of the GSC association, specializing in protection against unemployment for self-employed people, these figures are “very alarming” but “not surprising”. “Rise in interest rates, over-indebtedness of companies, end of Covid aid and the Urssaf moratorium… Many indicators raised fears of an acceleration of judicial liquidations in France with significant job losses as a result”, estimates- he, quoted in a press release.

Frédéric Barth, Managing Director of Altares, confirms: this explosion in unemployment among bosses is only the consequence of the sudden increase in business failures in 2023 (36%), “a strong but not surprising trend after the Covid parenthesis “. “In 2023, the slowdown in the economy was confirmed in France as in Europe, further weakening companies that are sometimes struggling to repay a debt that has become too heavy,” he explains, a phenomenon particularly affecting “very small companies “.

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In 2023, “more than nine out of ten entrepreneurs who lost their jobs managed a structure with fewer than 5 employees”, often family-owned, notes the report published this Monday. From a financial point of view, almost eight out of ten bosses who became unemployed last year were at the head of a company with less than 500,000 euros in turnover, “confirming the greater vulnerability of small structures”, indicate Altares and the GSC association. More worryingly, long-established companies are not immune: the average age of structures whose managers lost their activity in 2023 reaches nine years. As for bosses, a third of those affected last year were over 51.

The main losers from this very delicate economic situation are the construction and catering sectors: these account for almost a third of the job losses for business leaders in 2023. In construction, which also includes the building trades and real estate, areas weighed down by rising interest rates, the number of managers who became unemployed soared by 40.2%. The biggest victims being the owners of real estate agencies (103.4%).

The increase amounted to 42.7% in the accommodation, catering and drinking establishment sector, with catering accounting for more than three quarters of impacted business leaders. Due to inflation and changes in household consumption, “activities related to textiles and clothing are hard hit,” the study also notes, with an increase of 52.4% in managers having lost their employment in retail trade and 68.3% in wholesale trade. On the other hand, the agricultural sector, although very vocal about its difficulties in recent months, seems preserved, since it presents the lowest increase of all sectors of activity (10.3%).

After this horribilis annus, what does the year 2024 look like? “Certain sectors such as construction should see their activity pick up again, but the year 2024 promises to be just as delicate and must lead us to question the future of these men and women,” claims Anthony Streicher. “Growth is expected to be low for 2024 and corporate defaults more numerous than in 2023,” confirms Frédéric Barth. However, there are “reasons to hope” for a slight improvement, says Thierry Millon, director of studies at Altares, to Le Parisien, citing “the slowdown in inflation, perhaps the drop in interest rates, a recovery in consumption in the middle of the year and the Olympic Games.