Employment and unemployment

Belgian employment rate increases to 71 %

Work & training
Belgian employment rate increases to 71 %

Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, publishes today the main results of the Labour Force Survey for the second quarter of 2019:

  • 71 % of people aged 20 to 64 are employed. This figure is the highest ever registered in our country. The employment rate has increased by 2 percentage points in one year’s time.
  • The employment rate has sharply increased for both sexes and amounts to 75.1 % for men and to 66.9 % for women.
  • The employment rate increases the most among people aged 55 and over. The percentage of employed people aged 55-64 amounts to 52.3 %.
  • The employment rate is progressing positively in the three regions but the differences among the regions remain significant. In the second quarter of 2019, the employment rate reached 76 % in Flanders, 65.2 % in Wallonia and 61.7 % in Brussels.
  • The unemployment rate of people aged 15 to 64 continues to fall and stands at 5.4 %, i.e. the lowest level since records began in the 1980’s.
  • The unemployment rate for women remains stable at 5 %, while it is dropping to 5.7 % for men.
  • The decrease was the largest for youth unemployment rate, which now stands at 13.6 %.
  • The unemployment rate has decreased in the three regions. The gap between the unemployment rate in Flanders, on the one hand, and that in Brussels and Wallonia, on the other hand, is shrinking. In Flanders, 3.3 % of the labour force is unemployed. This percentage amounts to 6.9 % in Wallonia and to 12.8 % in Brussels.
Table 1

Employment rate, unemployment rate and activity rate by gender for Belgium and the regions, last 4 quarters

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Table 2

Definitions regarding employment and unemployment

The Labour Force Survey is a sample survey among private households, held throughout the year. It is based on the replies of almost 123,000 persons (respondents) of working age (15 and older).

The survey is harmonised at European level. The definitions regarding employment and unemployment that are mentioned are those of the International Labour Office (ILO) to allow international comparison.

  • The employed comprise all persons who during the reference period performed some work for wage or salary, in cash or in kind, or who were temporarily not at work during the reference period and had a formal attachment to their job. This also includes family workers.
  • The unemployed comprise all persons who:

(a) during the reference period were without work, i.e. were not in paid employment or self-employment;

(b) were available for work, i.e. were available for paid employment or self-employment within two weeks after the reference period;

(c) were seeking work, i.e. had taken specific steps during the last four weeks including the reference week to seek paid employment or self-employment, or who had found a job to start later, i.e. within a period of at most three months from the end of the reference week.

Please note: 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.

  • The labour force is made up of the employed and the unemployed.
  • The economically inactive population comprises all persons who were not considered employed or unemployed.
  • The employment rate represents employed persons as a percentage of the same age population. 
  • The employment rate as part of the Europe 2020 Strategy represents the share of persons employed in the population aged 20 to 64. 
  • The unemployment rate represents the share of unemployed people in the labour force (employed + unemployed) within a given age group.
  • The economic activity rate represents the share of the labour force (employed + unemployed) in the total population within a given age group.

The above indicators (employment rate, unemployment rate and economic activity rate) are the most important indicators for international comparisons of the labour market evolution.



LFS : Methodological improvements of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) 2017 (PDF, 97 Kb)