Belgian employment rate rises to 72.3 percent

Belgium's employment rate rose to 72.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2022. According to the minister of Work and Economy Pierre-Yves Dermagne, the government's goal of reaching an 80 percent employment rate by 2030 is "within reach."

The employment rate increased from 69.9 percent to 72.3 percent in two years. "Never before have so many people been employed in Belgium", says the minister. Compared to the third quarter of 2022, this is a 0.2 percentage point increase. On an annual basis, the growth is 0.7 percentage points.

If the increase continues at the same rate, Belgium will reach an employment rate of 80 percent by 2030, says Dermagne. He stresses that the result is "exceptionally strong" given the corona pandemic, the July 2021 floods, the war in Ukraine, and the energy crisis.

Moreover, the federal government's labor market measures "have yet to reach full cruising speed," Dermagne said. These include several steps to improve work-life balance, such as the four-day workweek.

Belgium's employment rate grew faster than neighboring Germany and France in the fourth quarter of 2022 but is still below the European average. That remained stable at just under 75 percent in the second half of 2022.

Moreover, in the EU, only Greece (66.2 percent), Spain (69.5 percent), Croatia (70.5 percent), Italy (65.5 percent), and Romania (68.5 percent) have lower employment rates than Belgium, Eurostat figures show. In Germany and the Netherlands, the employment rate is over 80 percent; in France, it is 74.2 percent.


Minister of work and economy Pierre-yves Dermagne during a working visit to the Lhoist group, a Belgian multinational active in mining, at the limestone quarry on the On-Jemelle site, in Rochefort, Tuesday 07 March 2023. © BELGA PHOTO JOHN THYS

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