Expatica news

Mixed news for Belgian economy

4 February 2004

BRUSSELS – Unemployment is continuing to rise in Belgium but the country’s all-important building sector is booming, according to two separate sets of figures just published.

The latest statistics from the Belgian employment ministry show that unemployment in the country is 6.8 percent higher today than it was a year ago.

The figures from the country’s three main regions show that the number of people out of work in Brussels has increased by 5.6 percent in the past 12 months. In Flanders there are 7.4 percent more job seekers and in Wallonia the jobless total is up by 7.5 percent.

That means Belgium’s overall unemployment rate now stands at 12.9 percent. But once again pronounced regional differences can be seen when the figure is broken down. Flanders currently fares best with a jobless rate of 8.4 percent followed by Wallonia with 18.4 percent and Brussels with a hefty 21.6 percent.

But this bad news was countered by the statistics from the building sector: a key employer that is often cited as a good indicator of a country’s economic well being.

Belgium’s building confederation said on Wednesday that the sector expanded by a respectable 6 percent in 2003, despite a generally gloomy economic climate throughout Europe.

The confederation added confidently that it is predicting an even better 2004.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Belgian news