Flemish economy projected to grow ahead of other regions


Economic growth in Flanders will slow after new year but remain ahead of other regions, says Federal Planning Bureau

More jobs

Economic growth in Flanders is set to remain above that in Wallonia or Brussels in the years to come, according to figures from Belgium’s Federal Planning Bureau. This good news is tempered by projections that see growth slowing in Flanders, and across the whole of Belgium, in line with Europe’s weaker economic situation.

The latest assessment from the Federal Planning Bureau shows the Flemish economy growing by 1.6% in the years between 2018 and 2020. Growth in Wallonia and Brussels is expected be just 1.2% and 0.9% respectively over the same period.

But in the next few years, between 2021 and 2024, growth in the Flemish economy will slow to 1.4%, while Wallonia and Brussels both hold steady.

The economy across Belgium as a whole grew by an average of 1.6% between 2015 and 2017. Growth is projected fall to 1.4% in 2019 and 2020, and again to 1.3% in the years up to 2024.

Lower unemployment

Employment should follow the same pattern, with Flanders continuing to lead the way, with an average growth of 0.9% per year, compared to 0.7% in Wallonia and 0.4% in Brussels. In the six years up to 2024, the Bureau expects 182,000 jobs to be created in Flanders, 64,000 in Wallonia and 21,000 in Brussels.

The unemployment rate continues to fall across the country. In Flanders it is projected to be 4.7% by 2024 compared to 6.5% today. Meanwhile disposable income should grow by 1.4% per year up to 2024.

One factor in this growth in employment is the federal policy that allows self-employed people to hire a first employee without paying the usual social security contribution. According to figures released recently by federal social affairs minister Maggie De Block (Open VLD), this has created 41,213 new job opportunities across the country since it was introduced in 2016.

“We are doing this to support the self-employed,” De Block said of the measure. “They increase their turnover, their wage costs decrease and job opportunities are continuously created.” The measure has been particularly popular in commerce, the building sector and hotels and catering.