Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, publishes today the main results of the Labour Force Survey for the third quarter of 2019. After a very strong second quarter where the employment rate of people aged 20-64 reached a record level, we can see in the third quarter of 2019 a slight decrease of this employment rate, from 71 % in the second quarter of 2019 to 70.7 % in the third quarter. However, the employment rate is still increasing among the youngest and oldest age groups. The employment rate for people aged 55 to 64 amounts to 52.9 %, the highest level ever. The employment rate for people aged 20-64 increases very slightly in Brussels (61.8 %), remains stable in Flanders (76 %) and decreases in Wallonia (64.2 %) compared to the previous quarter.
The unemployment rate, which has been continuously decreasing since the third quarter of 2017, has stabilised at 5.4 %. Men’s unemployment rate has decreased between the second and the third quarter of 2019 by 0.2 percentage point, and that of women has increased by the same amount. Men’s unemployment rate (5.5 %) is still in the third quarter of 2019 0.3 percentage point higher than that of women (5.2 %). Despite the fact that many school leavers entered the labour market in the third quarter, the youth unemployment rate has decreased from 13.6 % to 13.2 % between the second and the third quarter of 2019. Between the second and the third quarter of 2019, the unemployment rate in the three regions hardly changed (-0.2 percentage point in Brussels, +0.1 percentage point in Flanders and Wallonia). The unemployment rate in Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia amounts to 12.6 %, 3.4 % and 7 %, respectively.
Compared to the third quarter of 2018, we see mainly positive developments in the labour market. The employment rate of people aged 20-64 increases by 0.6 percentage point and the unemployment rate of people aged 15-64 decreases by 0.5 percentage point. The evolution of the employment and unemployment rates is more favourable for men than for women. In Brussels, the employment rate has increased the most between the third quarter of 2018 and the third quarter of 2019, while in the same period, the unemployment rate has decreased the most in Wallonia, closely followed by Brussels. In Flanders, the already very low unemployment rate remains stable.