Employment and unemployment

For the first time, more than 5 million people in work

Work & training
For the first time, more than 5 million people in work

Employment rate at record level in the third quarter of 2022

In the third quarter of 2022, 72.1% of people aged 20-64 in Belgium are in work, compared to 71.4% in both the second quarter of 2022 and the third quarter of 2021. This is what emerged from the new results of Statbel, based on the Labour Force Survey (LFS).
The ILO unemployment rate of 15-64-year-olds stabilised at 5.7% but fell sharply compared to the third quarter of last year, when the figure was 6.6%. Both the employment rate and the unemployment rate evolve favourably for most subpopulations between the third quarter of 2021 and that of 2022. The employment rate of 20-64-year-olds reached a record level and the number of employed people even exceeded 5 million for the first time. This includes students with a part-time job and that number is logically higher in the summer months. Hence, temporary work usually peaks in a third quarter. In the third quarter of 2022, 10.3% of all wage earners have a temporary job. Among young wage earners, it is 54.4% compared to 7.4% of 25-49-year-olds and 3.9% of people over the age of 50. Of all young people under the age of 25 with a temporary job, 65.4% have a student job.

Labour market evolves very favourably compared to last year

72.1 % of people aged 20 to 64 in work, a record level

After reaching 71.9% in the first quarter of 2022, the employment rate of 20-64-year-olds dropped slightly to 71.4% in the second quarter. In the third quarter of 2022, the employment rate rises to 72.1%, the highest level since measurements began in 1983. Compared to the third quarter of last year, we see the same increase, from 71.4% in the third quarter of 2021 to 72.1% in the third quarter of 2022. In absolute terms, this means that in the third quarter of 2022, 4,865,000 people aged 20 to 64 are in work. If we look at the population of 15 years and older, this is 5,010,000 people. So for the first time, more than 5 million people living in Belgium are in work. This includes young people performing a student job. They are included in the employment figures if they actually worked during the reference week, which is the week they are surveyed about.

Between the third quarter of 2021 and that of 2022, the employment rate increased among both women and men, among 20-54-year-olds and people over 55, and among medium-skilled and highly-skilled people (Chart 1). The employment rate among low-skilled people stabilises at 46%. Looking at the region, Brussels saw a sharp increase in the percentage of employed people in the population aged 20 to 64, from 62.6% to 65.8%. In Flanders, the employment rate rises from 76.2% to 76.8% and in Wallonia we note a very slight increase in the employment rate, from 65.8% to 65.9%.

Chart 1: Evolution of the employment rate of 20-64-year-olds by different characteristics (Q3 2021 – Q3 2022)

Definitions

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 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.

Low-skilled people are people who have at most a lower secondary education diploma. Medium-skilled people are people who obtained a diploma of upper secondary education but not of higher education. Highly-skilled people obtained a diploma of higher education.

Overview
Content
Table 1
Content

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 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.

Forms

Methodology