Employment barometer – January 2021 2021-02-23

How many persons were employed in the month of January 2021 ?

Employed workers

The average number of employed persons in the month of January 2021 amounted to 4,055,998 which is a decrease by approximately 25,000 units compared to January 2020 (-0.6%). This is the direct consequence of the Coronacrisis, which started on March 18 2020. For the record, the temporarily unemployed workers remain included in the employment figures and are thus not concerned by the decrease mentioned above. The effect of the crisis measured by the employment barometer is principally related to the cancellation/non-renewal of the (highly) temporary contracts (contracts for temporary workers, contracts of the Flexi – Extra type).  

Men and women

The decrease in employment is higher for men (-0.8%) than for women (-0.5%).

Age groups

The evolution of the employment rate is not only due to the workers of a determined age group who find or lose a job but is likewise connected to the evolution of the population belonging to this age group.

  • The number of young workers (< 25 years) has strongly  decreased (-6.9%) compared to last year.
  • In the 25-39 age category the average number of employed persons has decreased, compared to the month of January 2020 (-1.1%).
  • In the 40-49 age category a decrease on one year (-0.8%) in the average number of employed persons can be registered.
  • The workers of 50 to 64 years of age seem to be the least affected by the Coronacrisis.  Compared to the year 2020, a growth by 1.5% can be registered, which is somewhat lower than previous month. This can be explained by the fact that the effect on the number of workers principally concerns the contracts for temporary workers, the Extra or Flexi contracts, which are less present in this age group.

Place of residence

On an annual basis the average number of workers has declined in the three regions of the country. This decrease is lower for the inhabitants of the Flemish Region (-0.6%) and of the Walloon Region (-0.3%) and higher for the inhabitants of the Brussels-Capital Region (-1.5%).

Impact of the Coronavirus crisis and the employment barometer

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 labor and is clearly visible in the employment barometer, of which the figures presented here cover the timespan from 17 December 2020 to 20 January 2021.

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. As indicated above, 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 through DIMONA 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 (for temporary workers, of the Flexi – Extra type). This effect is visible for these workers in this report, as no or much less new 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).

^ Back to Top