Employment rate

In 2017, the employment rate in Belgium was 68.5%. To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, this figure must increase.

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Employment rate - Belgium and international comparison

percentage of working age population (20-64)

 199520002005201020122015201620172017//19952017//2012
Belgium61.466.366.567.667.267.267.768.50.50.4
EU28----67.968.668.470.071.072.1--1.1
//: Average Growth Rates

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2018), European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), lfsa_ergan, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 06/09/2018).

Employment rate by sex - Belgium

percentage of working age population (20-64)

 199520002005201020122015201620172017//19952017//2012
females49.656.458.661.661.763.063.063.61.10.6
males73.276.174.373.572.771.372.373.40.00.2
//: Average Growth Rates

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2018), European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), lfsa_ergan, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 06/09/2018).

Employment rate by age - Belgium

percentage of population

 199520002005201020122015201620172017//19952017//2012
25-5473.877.978.380.079.378.579.179.50.30.1
55-6423.325.031.837.339.544.045.448.33.44.1
//: Average Growth Rates

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2018), European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), lfsa_ergan, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 06/09/2018).

Employment rate by education - Belgium

percentage of working age population (20-64)

 1992199520002005201020122015201620172017//19922017//2012
less than primary, primary and lower secondary education48.746.651.248.848.447.145.645.645.9-0.2-0.5
upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education67.066.369.168.869.168.567.267.767.80.0-0.2
tertiary education83.982.285.482.881.981.881.882.282.2-0.10.1
//: Average Growth Rates

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2018), European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), lfsa_ergaed, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 26/09/2018).

Employment rate by nationality - Belgium

percentage of working age population (20-64)

 2006201020122015201620172017//20062017//2012
Belgians68.869.969.969.770.271.00.30.3
EU28 citizens except Belgians58.663.464.266.168.368.51.41.3
non-EU citizens47.448.847.848.649.152.00.81.7
//: Average Growth Rates

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2018), European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), lfsa_ergacob, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 06/09/2018).

Employment rate by nationality: difference between Belgians and non-EU citizens - Belgium

percentage points; working age population (20-64)

 2006201020122015201620172017//20062017//2012
difference21.421.122.121.121.119.0-1.1-3.0
//: Average Growth Rates

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2018), European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), lfsa_ergacob, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 06/09/2018).

Definition: the employment rate is the share of the active employed population in the working age population. The active employed population is defined as the number of persons aged 20 to 64 who worked at least one hour during the reference period, either as a wage earner with an employment contract in the private sector or in the public sector, or as a non-wage earner (self-employed or assistant). It should be noted that the active employed population is also equal to the sum of domestic employment and the balance of cross-border workers (i.e. the difference between the number of Belgian inhabitants working abroad and the number of non-Belgians not living in Belgium and working in Belgium). The working age population is made up of the persons aged 20 to 64. Employment data used for this indicator are based on the Labour Force Survey (LFS). Statbel organises this EU-harmonised survey in Belgium and makes the results available, in particular to Eurostat. The survey methodology was reviewed in 2017. Comparison of the 2017 data with previous years should be done with caution. The data used here come from Eurostat, which publishes detailed and comparable results between EU Member States. Since these data are based on surveys, a margin of uncertainty must be taken into account. The confidence intervals for these data are available on request from Statbel.

Goal: the employment rate must increase.

The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs adopted by the UN in 2015 include target 8.5: "By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value".

The Federal Long-Term Strategic Vision for Sustainable Development includes the following objectives: "The labour market will be accessible to all and will offer a decent job to each working-age person" (objective 8), "The level of employment will be as stable and high as possible and will respect the principles of a decent job. Every working-age person will have the opportunity to find a paid job" (objective 9) and "Working conditions will be adapted throughout the career to ensure a better quality of life and to be able to work longer" (objective 11) (Belgian Official Gazette, 08/10/2013).

In line with the Europe 2020 Strategy (European Commission, 2010) which seeks to raise the employment rate in the EU to 75% by 2020, Belgium aims at an employment rate of 73.2% by 2020. The Federal Government agreement of October 2014 (Federal Government, 2014) confirms this objective. Moreover, Belgium has adopted in its National Reform Programmes (which are part of the follow-up of the Europe 2020 Strategy) additional employment objectives by 2020, for women (69.1%) as well as for persons aged 55 to 64 (50%). Besides, the difference between the employment rate of non-EU citizens and that of Belgians must be lower than 16.5 percentage points according to these National Reform Programmes.

International comparison: The employment rate of people aged 20 to 64 in the EU has been higher than in Belgium throughout the 2002-2017 period and all tendencies run parallel. The growing trend noticed in Belgium between 2003 and 2008 was also observed in the EU28. In the EU28, this rate increased from 67.1% to 70.3% in this period. Then it decreased to 68.4% in 2012 and rose again to 72.1% in 2017. When Member States are divided into three groups, Belgium is part of the group with the poorest performance in 2017.

UN indicator: The selected indicator does not correspond to any monitoring indicator for the SDGs but is related to target 8.5., i.e. achieve full and productive employment.

Sources

  • SDGs, Sustainable Development Goals: United Nations (2015), Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015, document A/RES/70/1.

  • Indicators: United Nations (2017), Work of the Statistical Commission pertaining to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 6 July 2017, document A/RES/71/313.

  • UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/ (consulted on 23/10/2018).

  • Sustainable Development Goal indicators website: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/ (consulted on 23/10/2018).

This indicator is also included in another database of the Federal Planning Bureau, additionally providing regional data for Belgium: the indicators of the innovation system.

More information is available in FR (French) and NL (Dutch).