8% of employed people changed jobs between 2021 and 2022

Work & training
8% of employed people changed jobs between 2021 and 2022

Half continue to work in the same sector

For several years now, Statbel has been publishing the so-called transition matrices which show whether someone changes his or her labour market status based on the Labour Force Survey (LFS). In this press release, we focus on a part of these transitions: job-to-job transitions, i.e. employed people who remain in employment but change jobs.

Job-to-job transitions continue to increase between 2017 and 2022. While between 2017 and 2018 only 5.3% of employed people had changed jobs one year later, this is now 8.2%. We see that young people in particular are changing jobs. Age is the most important determinant of whether someone changes jobs.

The accommodation and food service activities and the cultural sector in particular are two sectors with many job-to-job transitions, with the difference that people in the cultural sector often go to work in another sector, while people in the accommodation and food service activities more often stay in this sector. People working in public administration and education change jobs less often, and when they do, they very often stay in the same sector.

Percentage of employed people who have changed jobs

Since 2017, every respondent selected to participate in the Labour Force Survey is surveyed four times over a period of eighteen months. They are surveyed for two consecutive quarters, then they are not surveyed for two quarters and then they are surveyed again for two consecutive quarters. This makes it possible to examine for each respondent what his or her labour market status is during each of these four surveys and, for the employed, what the characteristics of the job are, such as the sector where one works, the profession, the starting date of the job,... .

This publication focuses on the job-to-job transitions, i.e. on the group of people who indicate that they are working in one of the first two surveys and who also indicate that they are working one year later, but who in the meantime indicate that they have started working in a different job during the intervening period[1].

More and more people are changing jobs

We see that the proportion of people changing jobs is rising slightly. Between 2017 and 2018, 5.3% of people aged 15-64 in employment changed jobs and between 2021 and 2022 this was already 8.2%. About 375,000 people changed jobs in the past year, which is about the same number as the number of unemployed and inactive people who started working. This change is not only driven by employees with a temporary job. Among employees with a permanent contract we also see more changes.

Profile of employed people who change jobs

We see that age is an important factor in job-to-job transitions. Among 15-24 year-olds, more than 1 in 4 changed jobs between 2021 and 2022. Among 25-34 year-olds, this is more than 13% and it is still 7.4% among 55-64 year-olds. This drops further to 2.1% among 55-64 year-olds. Changing jobs also increases equally in all groups between 2017 and 2022.

There are no differences according to gender. The percentage of men and women who change jobs is more or less equal, although women seem to have changed jobs slightly more often last year.

In terms of region, we see clearly more job transitions among residents in the Flemish Region (9,0%) than in the Walloon Region (7,0%) and the Brussels-Capital Region (6,9%) respectively.

As regards the level of education, we see more differences between 2021 and 2022 than in previous years: before the coronavirus crisis, low-skilled people (often with temporary contracts) changed jobs slightly more often. However, we now see that medium-skilled and highly-skilled people change jobs more often than low-skilled people.

Part-time employees (9,2%) are slightly more inclined to change jobs than full-time employees (7,9%), but these differences do not seem to increase recently. 

Comparison between sectors

We also take a look at the sectors in which people change jobs more often. We are looking at

  • How many % of people working in a sector change jobs
  • How many % of people who change continue to work in the same sector.

We always look at the sector in which the person works at the starting moment.

Sectors where on average people change jobs more often

First, we look at the number of people changing jobs relative to the number employed people in that sector[2]. The sectors in which the most job-to-job transitions took place in the years 2017-2022:

  • the food and accommodation services sector (on average 11.7% of those employed in the food and accommodation services sector who remain in employment have changed jobs)
  • the cultural sector (on average 10.3%)
  • the ICT sector (on average 9.5%)

Least people changed jobs in

  • public administration (2.9% on average)
  • Education (5,0% on average)
  • Financial and insurance activities (5.2% on average)
  • Transportation and storage (5.5% on average)

Which sectors are employed people changing to?

Between 2017 and 2018, 45.4% of the employed people who changed jobs remained in the same sector. This percentage decreased slightly in 2019-2020 to 42.3% and increased in 2021-2022 to 50.8%. So more than half of employed people who changed jobs in the past year continue to work in the same sector: this may be in the same enterprise or in another enterprise.

The sectors in which most people who change jobs continue to work are 'human health and social services', 'education' and 'construction'. The sectors where employees who change jobs stay employed the least are 'other service activities', 'administrative and support service activities' and 'arts, entertainment and recreation'. Job transitions between sectors are thus also clearly influenced by the professions in that sector: a construction worker or a nurse may find it more difficult to change sectors than someone with an administrative profile.

[1] When we speak of people who have changed jobs, we are referring to people who themselves indicate that they have changed jobs. This can be with the same or a different employer. They are asked when they changed jobs and if the start date is less than a year they are included in the analyses.
Technically, it is about the people:

  • who are employed in the first and third survey, but in the second or third survey indicate that they have changed their job since the previous survey, or
  • who are working in the second and the fourth survey, but in the third or the fourth survey indicate to have changed their job since the previous survey.

[2] These are the people who (a) work at both times and (b) are assigned to the sector in which they work in the starting quarter.