Unemployment rate hits 35-year low

The number of full-time unemployed eligible to receive an unemployment benefit, has reached a 35-year low. That's according to the federal employment service RVA. The end of last year had over 530,000 jobless people on a benefit; a number which is a quarter down on 2006.

The RVA presented its annual report. Claudette De Coninck explained that the drop in recent years was thanks to the economic revival. "Belgium enjoyed a moderate growth for the third successive year. This had boosted employment rates; according to the National Bank 59,000 new jobs were created."

However, the working population has also grown less than in the past, as more people retired. Third, stricter rules to seek employment, especially for students leaving school, also have a positive impact on the figures.

Due to the stricter rules, only 1 in 4 unemployed have been exempt from the obligation to seek work, a number which is also down. 3 in 4 are obliged to make an effort, or they could lose their benefit. Their number is higher in Wallonia than in Flanders, where more people are in early retirement.

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