Results of the Labour Force Survey in Belgium
Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, publishes today the results of the Labour Force Survey for the second quarter of 2020. While the Covid-19 pandemic did not cause major changes in labour market indicators in the first quarter of 2020, it did so in the second quarter. The employment rate is decreasing but, at the same time, the ILO unemployment rate continues to fall. This ILO unemployment rate is drawn up in accordance with the definitions of the International Labour Office, in order to ensure comparability of results at international level. ILO unemployed are people who do not have a job, are actively looking for work and are available to start work within two weeks. Contrary to administrative unemployment rates, which are on the rise, the ILO unemployment rate decreases in the second quarter of 2020 due to the fact that part of the unemployed people are no longer looking for work or are no longer available to start work within two weeks, for example because they have to take care of their children. They then shift from ILO unemployment to inactivity but still share many characteristics with the ILO unemployed. Note that the temporary unemployed are not included in the ILO unemployment figures but in the employment figures. They are indeed temporarily absent from work, just like, for example, ill people or persons employed who are on holiday.
The greatest impact of the crisis can be seen in working time. In the second quarter of 2020, the average number of hours actually worked is 27.3 hours per week compared to an average of 33 hours a year earlier.
We also see an important impact on the extent to which people work from home. In the second quarter of 2020, 35.9% of the persons employed work sometimes, regularly or always from home, an increase of 40% compared to the same quarter last year.
When asked for a comparison with the situation before the Covid-19 crisis, a large group of homeworkers indicate that they only started working from home for the first time as a result of the Covid-19 crisis (41.1% of homeworkers). A slightly larger group, 44.2% of homeworkers, indicate that they are now working significantly more from home than before the Covid-19 crisis. For only a minority of 14.7%, the crisis had no impact on the extent to which they are working from home.
 The ILO unemployment figures are unrelated to any possible registration with the VDAB, Actiris, FOREM or the ADG, or to the receipt of unemployment benefits from ONEM (National Employment Office). As a result, they cannot be compared with administrative unemployment figures.
 Other EU Member States, such as France and Italy, also register a decrease in the ILO unemployment rate in the second quarter of 2020.