Unemployment rate (i40)

In 2021, the unemployment rate in Belgium amounted to 6.3%. To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, this figure must be reduced. Between 2000 and 2020, the trend is undetermined (assessment of November 2021).

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Unemployment rate - Belgium and international comparison

percentage of active population

 19901995200020022005201020152016202020212021//19902021//20162021//2002
Belgium7.39.46.66.98.58.48.67.95.66.3-0.5-4.4-0.5
EU27------9.69.69.810.19.17.17.0---5.1-1.6
//: Average Growth Rates

break in time series: BE in 1999, 2001, 2005, 2011, 2017, 2021; EU in 2005, 2021

Statbel; Eurostat (2022), European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), lfsa_urgaed, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (geraadpleegd op 30/05/2022).

Unemployment rate by region - Belgium

percentage of active population

 199920002005201020152016202020212021//19992021//2016
Brussels-Capital Region16.015.016.517.417.516.912.412.5-1.1-5.9
Flemish Region5.63.75.55.25.24.93.53.9-1.6-4.5
Walloon Region12.59.911.911.512.010.67.48.9-1.5-3.4
//: Average Growth Rates

The margin of uncertainty for this indicator is indicated in the text for the latest year. Break in time series: 1999, 2001, 2005, 2011, 2017, 2021

Statbel (2022), Direct communication 30/05/2022; Eurostat (2022), European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), lfst_r_lfur2gac, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 30/05/2022).

Unemployment rate by sex - Belgium

percentage of active population

 1990199520002005201020152016202020212021//19902021//2016
females11.512.38.39.58.67.87.65.45.9-2.1-4.9
males4.67.45.37.78.29.28.15.86.71.2-3.7
//: Average Growth Rates

break in time series: BE in 1999, 2001, 2005, 2011, 2017, 2021; EU in 2005, 2021

Statbel; Eurostat (2022), European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), lfsa_urgaed, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (geraadpleegd op 30/05/2022).

Unemployment rate by age - Belgium

percentage of active population

 1990199520002005201020152016202020212021//19902021//2016
15-2414.521.515.221.522.422.120.115.318.20.7-2.0
25-546.58.35.87.47.37.77.15.05.5-0.5-5.0
55-643.64.03.24.44.65.65.74.24.60.8-4.2
//: Average Growth Rates

break in time series: BE in 1999, 2001, 2005, 2011, 2017, 2021; EU in 2005, 2021

Statbel; Eurostat (2022), European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), lfsa_urgaed, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (geraadpleegd op 30/05/2022).

Unemployment rate by education - Belgium

percentage of active population

 1992199520002005201020152016202020212021//19922021//2016
at most lower secondary9.513.810.414.115.417.016.112.314.71.5-1.8
upper secondary6.59.46.88.58.28.78.15.87.00.3-2.9
tertiary3.04.02.74.44.54.64.23.53.60.6-3.0
//: Average Growth Rates

break in time series: BE in 1999, 2001, 2005, 2011, 2017, 2021; EU in 2005, 2021

Statbel; Eurostat (2022), European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), lfsa_urgaed, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (geraadpleegd op 30/05/2022).

Long-term unemployment rate - Belgium

percentage of active population

 199920002005201020152016202020212021//19992021//2016
long-term unemployment4.93.84.44.04.44.12.32.6-2.8-8.7
//: Average Growth Rates

break in time series: 1999, 2001, 2017, 2021

Statbel; Eurostat (2022), European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), tot 2020 une_ltu_a_h, vanaf 2021 une_ltu_a, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (geraadpleegd op 23/05/2022).

Definition: the unemployment rate refers to the ratio between the number of unemployed and the labour force, expressed as a percentage. The unemployment data used for this indicator are drawn from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). The survey data were obtained from direct interviews to determine if a person is unemployed. This is the case if the person is not working, has actively been looking for a job in the last four weeks and is available within two weeks to possibly start working. The labour force includes all persons in from 15 years who are available in the labour market, i.e. those who have paid work and those who do not but are looking for it. The unemployment data presented here refer to the population aged 15 to 64. This is different for the data on long-term unemployment: here the age group 20-64 years applies. Statistics Belgium 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. Due to, among other things, changes in the definition of unemployment following a new European framework regulation, the data from 2021 onwards cannot be directly compared with those of 2020. From now on, persons who are temporarily unemployed for more than three months will no longer be counted as employed but as unemployed or inactive, depending on the answers to the questions on job search and availability.

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. This margin of uncertainty increases as the indicator is calculated on smaller sub-populations. The confidence intervals for these data are available on request from Statistics Belgium.

Goal: the unemployment rate must be reduced.

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 inclusive and provide decent employment for every working age citizen” (Objective 8), "The level of employment shall be as stable and high as possible and shall respect the principles of decent work. Anyone of working age will have the opportunity to find paid work” (Objective 9), “Unemployment will be reduced to the level of frictional unemployment" (Objective 10) and "Working conditions will be adapted throughout the career to ensure a better quality of life and allow people to work longer” (Objective 11, Belgian Official Gazette, 08/10/2013).

International comparison: since 2002, the unemployment rate in Belgium has been consistently lower than in the EU27, except in 2007 when it was the same for both. The unemployment rate has developed differently in the EU27 and in Belgium. Between 2002 and 2008, the unemployment rate in the EU27 declined from 9.6% to 7.2%, while that in Belgium fluctuated around 7.5% over the same period. As from 2009 the unemployment rate increases sharply in the EU27 to reach 11.4% in 2013. This increase is much less pronounced in Belgium. The unemployment rate in the EU27 has been falling since 2013, reaching 6.7% in 2019, while it has only been falling as from 2015 in Belgium. In 2020, the unemployment rate in the EU27 increased slightly to 7.1%. The following year, it was 7%. When Member States are divided into three groups, Belgium is part of the group with average performances and performs better than the European average in 2021. In that year, the Czech Republic ranked first with 2.9% and Spain last with 14.9%.

UN indicator: the selected indicator corresponds to indicator 8.5.2 - Unemployment rate, by sex, age and persons with disabilities.

Sources

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