East Flanders has the best employment and unemployment rates in 2022
Detailed results of the Labour Force Survey 2022
After having published last week the employment and unemployment rates per region, Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, publishes today the detailed results of the Labour Force Survey for 2022.
In four Flemish provinces (East Flanders, West Flanders, Antwerp and Limburg), at least 75% of the population aged 20-64 is employed. East Flanders registers the best result with an employment rate of 80%. Hainaut has the lowest employment rate (61.4%). Also in Liège, Brussels and Namur, less than 68% of the population aged 20-64 is employed.
The employment rate has increased in all provinces these past 20 years, with the largest increase in East Flanders (+10.9 percentage points).
The five Flemish provinces lead the ranking for the lowest unemployment rate of 15-64-year-olds. Also here, East Flanders has the best result with an unemployment rate of 2%.
Belgium has set itself the objective of an employment rate of people aged 20-64 of 80% by 2030. In order to achieve that objective, more than 540,000 additional persons need to be employed. Given the limited number of ILO unemployed people (272,000 in the age group 20-64), inactive people will have to be (re)employed. In 2022, there were about 1,619,000 inactive people aged 20 to 64 in Belgium. This is 24% of the total population in this age group. The largest category of inactive people among the 20-64-year-olds are those who consider themselves unable to work because of long-standing health problems. There are about 450,000 persons in this group. In second place are students with 378,000 inactive people, followed by retired (also early retired or with a bridging pension) people (314,000 people), housewives and househusbands (279,000 people) and a residual category with just under 200,000 inactive people.
You will find more details here below.
Employment and unemployment rates per province
In 2022, the employment rate of 20-64-year-olds in Belgium was 71.9%. In Flanders, 76.7% of people aged 20-64 are employed, 65.7% in Wallonia and 65.2% in Brussels.
The ILO unemployment rate of people aged 15-64 amounts to 5.6%. At regional level, this figure is 3.2% in Flanders, 8.4% in Wallonia and 11.5% in Brussels.
The large regional differences are also reflected in the employment and unemployment rates by province.
East Flanders registers an employment rate of 80%
East Flanders registers, with 80%, the highest employment rate, followed by West Flanders with 78%. Two other Flemish provinces rank 3rd and 4th: Antwerp (75.9%) and Limburg (75%). Hainaut is at the bottom of the ranking with an employment rate of 61.4%, just after Liège (64.8%) and Brussels (65.2%). The other provinces are in the middle with an employment rate between 67% and 75%. The employment rate of men varies between 66.1% (Hainaut) and 83% (East Flanders), and that of women between 56.7% (Hainaut) and 76.9% (East Flanders).
|Employment rate of people aged 20-64 per province and gender (2022)||Total||Men||Women|
The employment rate of people aged 20-64 has increased in all provinces these past 20 years (Chart 1). The increase was the most significant in East Flanders (+10.9 percentage points), Walloon Brabant (+9.3 percentage points) and Antwerp (+9.2 percentage points). Flemish Brabant registers the smallest increase (+1.9 percentage points). Between 2002 and 2012, the percentage of employed people in the population aged 20-64 slightly increase in most provinces. Only in Brussels was there a limited decrease (-0.6 percentage points). Between 2012 and 2022, a slightly larger increase in the employment rate can be observed in most provinces. In Namur, the increase was slightly more limited than the decade before and in Flemish Brabant, the employment rate is stabilising.
Lowest unemployment rate in East Flanders
As with the employment rate, East Flanders scores best for the unemployment rate of 15-64-year-olds. In 2022, barely 2% of the East Flanders working population was unemployed. West Flanders ranks second (2.7%) and Limburg (3.6%) completes the top 3. Flemish Brabant comes just after Limburg, with a similarly low unemployment rate of 3.7%. At the bottom of the ranking, we find Brussels with an unemployment rate of 11.5%. The unemployment rate is 10.6% in Hainaut and 8.4% in Liège. The other provinces are in the middle with an average unemployment rate between 4.0% and 7.3%. The unemployment rate of women varies between 1.9% (East Flanders) and 11.2% (Brussels), that of men between 2.1% (East Flanders) and 11.8% (Brussels).
|Unemployment rate of people aged 15-64 per province and gender||Total||Men||Women|
Status on the labour market of the population aged 20-64
24% of the population aged 20 to 64 is inactive
Belgium has set itself the objective of an employment rate of people aged 20-64 of 80% by 2030. In order to achieve that objective, more than 540,000 additional persons need to be employed. Given the limited number of ILO unemployed people (272,000), inactive people will have to be (re)employed. In 2022, there were about 1,619,000 inactive people aged 20 to 64 in Belgium. This is 24% of the total population in this age group.
The percentage of inactive people in the population aged 20 to 64 differs considerably per province and varies from 18.7% in East Flanders to 31.7% in Hainaut (Table 3).
|Population aged 20 -64 per province and labour market status (2022)||ILO unemployed||Employed||Inactive||Total||Percentage inactive people|
The largest group of inactive people is unable to work because of long-standing health problems
Unlike the statuses of the employed and unemployed, which were determined based on the ILO definitions, for more detail on inactivity we use a question from the survey that gauges what status people attribute to themselves. The categories of inactive people we can distinguish are: “student”, “housewife / househusband”, “unable to work because of long-standing health problems”, “retired” and a residual category “other”.
The largest category of inactive people among the age group 20-64 comprises those who consider themselves unable to work because of long-standing health problems. There are about 450,000 persons in this group: 246,000 women and 204,000 men (Chart 2). Students rank second with 378,000 inactive people: 200,000 women and 178,000 men. Students who also worked during the reference week are excluded and are counted with the employed. About 314,000 inactive people aged 20 to 64 say they are retired (also early retired or with a bridging pension) (without also having a paid job). Here, men (167,000) are more represented than women (147,000). 279,000 inactive people consider themselves housewives / househusbands. The large majority in this category is female (260,000). There is also a residual category with just under 200,000 inactive people. These are persons who could not find themselves in any of the above categories, but indicated, for example, that they were persons of private means or volunteering or considered themselves unemployed but did not meet the criteria to be counted among the ILO unemployed. Indeed, in order to be considered as ILO unemployed, one must be jobless, actively looking for a job and available to start working within two weeks of the reference week for which one is interviewed.
The distribution of these five categories of inactive people varies greatly by province (Chart 3). While in Walloon Brabant (32.8%), Flemish Brabant (30.9%) and Brussels (30.2%), students make up the main category of inactive people, in Hainaut (34.8%), Namur (32.2%), East Flanders (29.8%), Liège (29.5%), Limburg (29.1%), Antwerp (27%) and Luxembourg (26.2%), it is those who are unable to work because of long-standing health problems that make up the largest group of inactive people. In West Flanders, retired people (30.8%) are the largest group of inactive people.
The reported figures are estimations based on a sample survey. They are based on an effective sample of about 103,500 persons between 15 and 89 years old. This represents about 50,900 respondents in Flanders, 38,900 in Wallonia and 13,700 in Brussels. The sample numbers per province are the following: Antwerp 11,200, Brussels: 13,700, West Flanders: 12,600, East Flanders: 9,400, Hainaut: 8,800, Liège: 11,400, Limburg: 7,600, Luxembourg: 7,200, Namur: 6,200, Flemish Brabant: 10,100, Walloon Brabant: 5,300.
The principle of a sample survey implies that the results from that sample are used for an estimate of the values in the entire population (=the population). Because it is an estimate, a certain degree of uncertainty must be taken into account. With a different sample it is possible to reach a slightly different value. This degree of accuracy is expressed as a “confidence interval” around the estimated value. The smaller the interval, the more accurate our statements. The confidence intervals for the employment and unemployment rates for Belgium, the regions and the provinces are available in annexes 1 and 2.
The survey is harmonised at European level. The definitions regarding employment and unemployment that are mentioned (see tab ‘documents’) are those of the International Labour Office (ILO) to allow international comparison.
The Labour Force Survey is a continuous survey, which means that the sample is evenly spread over the 52 (reference) weeks of the year. The selected respondents answer a questionnaire mainly related to their activity in the course of a given reference week. The data presented here reflect the averages for the year.
The employment rate of people aged 20-64 is the share of persons employed in the total population aged 20 to 64.
The unemployment rate of people aged 15-64 is the share of unemployed people in the labour force (employed + unemployed) aged 15 to 64.
Annex 1: Confidence intervals for the employment rate of people aged 20-64 (2022)
|Estimate 2022||Confidence interval|
|Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Province of Antwerp||75.9%||74.5%||77.3%|
|Province of West Flanders||78.0%||77.0%||79.1%|
|Province of East Flanders||80.0%||78.7%||81.3%|
|Province of Hainaut||61.4%||59.6%||63.2%|
|Province of Liège||64.8%||62.9%||66.8%|
|Province of Limburg||75.0%||73.4%||76.7%|
|Province of Luxembourg||72.5%||70.9%||74.1%|
|Province of Namur||67.5%||65.6%||69.4%|
|Province of Flemish Brabant||73.8%||72.3%||75.3%|
|Province of Walloon Brabant||74.7%||72.9%||76.6%|
Annex 2: Confidence intervals for the unemployment rate of people aged 15-64 (2022)
|Estimate 2022||Confidence interval|
|Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Province of Antwerp||4.0%||3.3%||4.6%|
|Province of West Flanders||2.7%||2.3%||3.2%|
|Province of East Flanders||2.0%||1.4%||2.6%|
|Province of Hainaut||10.6%||9.1%||12.1%|
|Province of Liège||8.4%||7.2%||9.7%|
|Province of Limburg||3.6%||2.8%||4.4%|
|Province of Luxembourg||4.9%||4.1%||5.7%|
|Province of Namur||7.3%||5.8%||8.7%|
|Province of Flemish Brabant||3.7%||3.0%||4.4%|
|Province of Walloon Brabant||5.6%||4.4%||6.7%|
Definitions regarding employment and unemployment
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.
- People with a job (employed people) comprise all people who during the reference week performed some work ‘for wage or salary’ or ‘for profit’ regardless of the duration (even if this was only one hour), or who had a job but were temporarily absent. 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’.
Since 2021, people who have been temporarily unemployed for an uninterrupted period of more than three months are counted as unemployed or inactive, and no longer as employed.
- The unemployed comprise all people who:
(a) during the reference week 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 week;
(c) were actively 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 within a maximum period of three months.
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 people who were not considered as 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.
Low-skilled people are people who have at best a lower secondary education diploma. Medium-skilled people have obtained an upper secondary education diploma, but no higher education diploma. High-skilled people have a higher education diploma.
Labour force Survey (PDF, 583 Kb)
- Changes to the Labour Force Survey (LFS) in 2021
- LFS : Methodological improvements of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) 2017 (PDF, 97 Kb)