1 in 4 unemployed has been without a job for at least 2 years

Some 62,000 Flemings have been out of a job for at least two years. This group represents a quarter of all the unemployed. The figure is 17 per cent up on September 2012 and is still on the rise. It has also been calculated that some 1,000 Flemings have been living on benefits for more than 20 years.

The figures were supplied by the Flemish Employment service VDAB and published by Het Nieuwsblad and Gazet van Antwerpen. The VDAB says that the rise can be linked directly to the economic crisis. Many people fell out of a job and ended up in long-term unemployment.

One of the proposals on the table was to put a time limit on unemployment benefits, but the idea, put forward by the Flemish nationalists, did not make it. Negotiators did decide to have long-term unemployed do community service, two half days a week. It is not clear whether this will apply to all the above-mentioned 62,000 unemployed.

A working group will first decide who will have to do the service, and what kind of service it will be. Low-skilled people will be targeted in a first phase. The new Employment Minister Kris Peeters (Flemish Christian democrat) argues that the community service can pave the way for a new job. The group of long-term unemployed is a difficult group to activate, to get back into work, the Flemish Employment Minister Philippe Muyters (N-VA) explains.