Employment and unemployment

The employment rate of people aged 55 and over continues to increase

Work & training
The employment rate of people aged 55 and over continues to increase

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.

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)