Flemish unemployment figures 10 percent up

At the end of last month, 20,991 more Flemings were out of a job than at the same time last year. The figure equals a 9.8 percent rise on the year. That's according to figures released by the Flemish Employment Service VDAB. However, it's not all bad news.

Official figures put the number of people out of a job in the Flemish Region at 236,168. It's especially women (+10.1 percent) and high- en medium-skilled workers (+14 percent) that were hit. This can be explained by the cuts in the services sector, which at a first stage resisted the crisis quite well. The services sector includes the health care sector, local, regional and federal administrations and banks, that were targeted by austerity measures.

The Brussels unemployment rate climbed with 3 percent on the year. This is mainly because of a higher instream of Bulgarian and Romanian job seekers. The Brussels employment service Actiris reports that since January, some 1,300 people from Bulgaria or Romania registered as job seekers. Actiris thinks that they are not new immigrants, but people that have been living in Brussels for a longer time, who are now coming out as the borders officially opened. The unemployment rate in Brussels is presently at 20.7 percent.

Today, it also turned out that the Belgian economy enjoyed a 0.5 growth in the fourth quarter of last year. This exceeds forecasts made by experts, that had estimated economic growth at 0.4 percent.