Unemployment rate at all-time low in Flanders


Due to a focus on getting those over the age of 50 back on to the labour market, Flanders has fewer people looking for work

60 is the new 50

The unemployment rate in Flanders has decreased for the fifth year in a row, hitting the lowest rate since records in the region have been kept. There was a monthly average of 185,000 people registered as seeking work in 2019.

Nearly 179,000 people were unemployed at the end of the year – a 4.2% drop on the year before – to end at an unemployment rate of 5.7%. That is an all-time low for Flanders.

Figures also show good news for those over the age of 50: For the first time, the tide is turning in unemployment for those aged 50-59. The unemployment rate is down by 10.4% for those aged 50-54 and by nearly 18% for those aged 55-59, compared to the rates for 2018.

Change in mentality

Those are the best figures based on age, with the unemployment rate falling less than 8.5% for every other age group. According to jobs and training agency VDAB, this is partially due to major efforts taken in technical training for the age group over the last several years.

Another reason is a change in mentality among employers, which could be somewhat based on the rise of the retirement age. Where those aged 55 were previously seen as people who would retire within five years, that is no longer the case.

Sixty, however, is the new 50, according to Joke Van Bommel of VDAB. “Sixty is the new age barrier on the labour market,” she told De Standaard. The unemployment rate for those 60 and older jumped up by 23% between 2018 and 2019. “The gap between the 50-plussers and the 60-plussers has gotten greater.”

The retirement age in Belgium is currently 65, which will rise to 66 in 2025 and to 67 in 2030.

Photo courtesy Groen Plus