ILO unemployment rate

  • ILO unemployment rate in the Flemish Region at 3.5%

    In 2020, the ILO unemployment rate in the Flemish Region was 3.5%. This is the proportion of the unemployed in the labour force aged between 15 and 64. Labour force means the sum of the employed and unemployed. 

    In the 1999-2017 period, the unemployment rate hovered around 4.5%. From 2018, it was clearly lower. The unemployment was highest in 2003 (5.7%) and lowest in 2019.

  • Unemployment rate for men and women almost the same

    In 2020 the unemployment rate was virtually the same for men (3.5%) and women (3.6%). Between 1999 and 2008, the unemployment rate among men was lower than among women. From 2008 to 2014, the difference between men and women almost disappeared. After 2014, a small difference could again be noticed, but from 2018 the unemployment rate for men and women was almost the same.

  • Higher unemployment rate among persons aged 15 to 34 than in other age groups

    The unemployment rate among 15-34 year-olds was 5.6% in 2020, slightly higher than in 2019 when the lowest rate since 1999 was recorded. Throughout the period 1999-2020 the unemployment rate for this age group was higher than that for the 34-49 age group and the over 50s. The curve for young people also shows larger fluctuations.

    For the 35-49 age group, the unemployment rate in 2020 was 2.6% and 2.5% for the 50-64 age group. In the 1999-2020 period the curve for these age groups was largely the same, with fluctuations between 2.3% and 4.8%.

  • Unemployment rate higher among the low educated

    In 2020, the unemployment rate of persons with low education in the 25-64 age group was 4.8% compared to the peak of 8.8% in 2015. For medium-educated persons, the unemployment level in 2020 was 2.9%. The unemployment rate of the persons with high education stood at 2.4% in 2020, 0,6 percentage point higher than in 2019.

    The unemployment level among the low educated persons was higher than among the two other groups during the whole period 1999-2020. The fluctuations over time were also larger among the low educated.

  • Highest unemployment rate among single parents

    In 2020, the unemployment rate among single persons without dependent children was 5.8% compared to 7.6% in 2012 and 4.7% in 2019. The unemployment rate for single persons with children dropped from 9.2% in 2012 to 5.8% in 2020. The unemployment rate for singles was clearly higher throughout the whole period than for those with a partner.

    Couples without dependent children had an unemployment rate of 2.0% in 2020, compared to 3.1% in 2012. For couples with dependent children, the unemployment rate dropped from 3.7% in 2012 to 2.5% in 2019, followed by a small increase to 3,1% in 2020.

  • Higher unemployment rate among persons with impediment due to disability or prolonged health problem

    In 2020, the unemployment rate for people with impediment due to a disability or long-term health problem was 5.4%, compared to 11.4% in 2009. For persons without any impediment, the unemployment rate dropped from 4.5% in 2009 to 3.3% in 2020.

  • Higher unemployment rate for persons born outside the European Union

    In 2020, the unemployment rate among persons born in Belgium was 2.9%, compared to 3.9% in 2007. For persons born in another country of the European Union (EU28), the employment rate declined from 6.9% in 2007 to 4.4% in 2019, but rose again to 5.2% in 2020. For persons born outside the EU28, the unemployment rate was much higher in the 2007-2016 period. From 2017, it dropped to 9.5% in 2020.

  • Flemish unemployment rate below EU average

    In 2020, the unemployment rate in the Flemish Region (3.5%) was much lower than in the Walloon Region (7.4%), in the Brussels-Capital Region (12.4%) and in Belgium as a whole (5.6%).

    In the European Union (EU27) the unemployment rate was 7.2% on average. The Flemish Region performed significantly better than the EU27 average. The Czech Republic had the lowest unemployment rate (2.6%), followed by Poland (3.2%) and Germany (3.9%). Greece had the highest unemployment rate (16.5%) in 2019, preceded by Spain (15.6%) and Italy (9.4%).


Statbel: Employment And Unemployment 
Eurostat: Database 


ILO unemployment rate: the share of unemployed persons in the labour force, according to the definitions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). According to the ILO definition, a person is considered unemployed if he or she does not have work, has actively looked for work in the previous four weeks and is immediately available for the labour market (can start a new job within two weeks). This also includes people who are not in work but who have found a job that only starts in 3 months’ time. The labour force is the sum of the employed and unemployed. A person is considered, according to the ILO definition, to be working if he or she has performed at least one hour of paid work in the reference week.

Publication date

8 April 2021

Next update

April 2022

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