Employment barometer – March 2020 2020-04-29

How many persons were employed in the month of March 2020 ?

Employed workers

The average number of employed persons in the month of March 2020 amounted to 4,093,144, which is an increase compared to March 2019 (+44,200).

The number of employed persons was higher than a year ago (+1.1%); consequently the upward trend of the previous years continues.

Men and women

The growth in employment is higher for women (+1.3%) then for men (+0.9%).

Age groups

The evolution of the employment rate is not only due to the workers of these age groups who find or lose a job but is likewise connected to the increase/decrease of the population belonging to those age groups.

  • The number of young workers (< 25 years) has decreased by -0.6% compared to last year.
  • In the 25-39 age category the average number of employed persons increased, compared to the month of March 2019 (+0.4%).
  • In the 40-49 age category a limited rise in the number of employed persons can be registered if it is compared to the employment rate of March 2019 (+0.3%).
  • The employment of workers of 50 to 64 years of age has increased by 2.9%, compared to March 2019.

Place of residence

On an annual basis the average number of workers has grown in the three regions of the country. The relative increase is the strongest in the Brussels Region (+2.1%) and is as large for Flemish (+0.9%) and Walloon workers (+1%).

Impact of the Coronavirus crisis

As a result of the Coronavirus crisis,  a lot of companies have been compelled to stop or to reduce considerably their activities. This has a large impact on their demand for labour.

This is however not yet visible in the employment barometer due to the fact that the figures presented here cover the timespan from 20 February 2020 to 18 March 2020. Consequently the most important part of the crisis is not yet included in this report.

Moreover the figures of the employment barometer are based upon the Dimona declaration, which the employer establishes each time a worker starts or leaves a job. This has implications for the data which are and which are not included in this employment barometer. 

  •   The major step towards reducing the work volume consists in applying temporary unemployment. This measure implies that the workers temporarily carry out little or no work and that they receive a complementary income from the ONEM (National Employment Office). As the worker concerned remains on the payroll, there is no DIMONA declaration of employment termination. It is as such NOT possible to obtain an assessment of the number of  temporarily unemployed nor of the number of days of temporary unemployment. 
  • Another consequence of the decrease of the economic activity is the cancellation/non-renewal of the (very) temporary contracts (of the Flexi – Extra type). In the future the effect will be visible for these workers in this report, as no contract or much less contracts will be reported.
  • Moreover, during this period of reduced activity, the number of workers will diminish in many sectors, both because of a possible increase of the exit of personnel and a reduced inflow of new workers. These effects are in principle also shown in the Dimona declaration, but as DIMONA procures no data about the nature of the contract (fixed-term contract - open-ended contract) or about the type of work service (full-time – part-time), the real impact on employment will be much more difficult to determine.

More information

More detailed figures and explanations about the applied methodology can be found in the Monthly employment barometer (in French).

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