Unemployment rate

In 2018, the unemployment rate in Belgium amounted to 5.9%. To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, this figure must be reduced. The trend since 2000 is undetermined.

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Unemployment rate - Belgium and international comparison

percentage of active population

 19901995200020052010201320152016201720182018//19902018//2013
Belgium7.39.36.68.58.38.48.57.87.15.9-0.8-6.8
EU28----8.99.09.610.99.48.67.67.0---8.5
//: Average Growth Rates

break in time series for 2001 and for Belgium only for 2005, 2011 and 2017

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2019), European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), lfsa_urgaed , https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 02/04/2019).

Unemployment rate by sex - Belgium

percentage of active population

 19901995200020052010201320152016201720182018//19902018//2013
females10.412.78.59.58.58.27.87.67.15.5-2.2-7.7
males4.07.65.67.68.18.79.18.17.16.31.6-6.3
//: Average Growth Rates

break in time series : 1999, 2001, 2005, 2011, 2017

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2019), European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), lfsa_urgaed , https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 02/04/2019).

Unemployment rate by age - Belgium

percentage of active population

 1990199520002005201020122015201620172017//19902017//2012
15-2414.521.515.221.522.419.822.120.119.31.1-0.5
25-546.58.35.87.47.36.77.77.16.2-0.2-1.5
55-643.64.03.24.44.64.55.65.75.91.85.6
//: Average Growth Rates

break in time series: 1999, 2001, 2005, 2011, 2017; data for category 55-64 years for 2000, 2001 and 2003 are uncertain

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2019), European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), lfsa_urgaed , https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 02/04/2019).

Unemployment rate by education - Belgium

percentage of active population

 1992199520002005201020122015201620172017//19922017//2012
less than primary, primary and lower secondary education9.413.710.313.915.314.016.815.914.61.80.8
upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education6.59.46.88.58.17.88.78.17.10.4-1.9
tertiary education3.03.92.74.44.53.94.64.24.31.52.0
//: Average Growth Rates

break in time series: 1992, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2014, 2017

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2019), European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), lfsa_urgaed , https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 02/04/2019).

Long-term unemployment rate - Belgium

percentage of active population

 199920002005201020122015201620172017//19992017//2012
long-term unemployment4.93.84.44.03.44.44.03.5-1.90.6
//: Average Growth Rates

break in time series: 1999, 2001, 2017

Statistics Belgium; Eurostat (2019), European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS), une_ltu_a, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat (consulted on 02/04/2019).

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 the 15 to 74 age group who are available in the labour market, i.e. those who have paid work and those who do not but are looking for it. 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 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 EU28, except in 2008 when it reached the same level of 7%. The unemployment rate has developed differently in the EU28 and in Belgium, especially as from 2009. It decreased from 9.0% to 7.0% between 2002 and 2008, and this development more or less follows the trend observed in Belgium but at a higher level. As from 2009 the unemployment rate increases sharply in the EU28 to reach 10.8% in 2013. This increase is much less pronounced in Belgium. The unemployment rate in the EU28 has been falling since 2013, reaching 7% in 2018, while it has only been falling as from 2016 in Belgium. 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 2017.

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

This indicator is used to calculate the composite indicator Well-being here and now, published in the report Complementary indicators to GDP.

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 26/04/2019).

  • Sustainable Development Goal indicators website: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/ (consulted on 26/04/2019).

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).