40% of homeworkers do so for the first time in the second quarter of 2020
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.
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. For example, one can be temporarily absent for holidays, illness, technical or economic reasons (temporary unemployment),.... Family workers are also included in the category ‘employed’.
- 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.
Labour force Survey (PDF, 594.86 Kb)
LFS : Methodological improvements of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) 2017 (PDF, 97 Kb)