Belgium face high unemployment after COVID-19 pandemic

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The results of the Covid-19 pandemic have increased inequalities in Belgium and Brussels; employees have been highly affected the harshest by raging unemployment during and after the crisis.

The General Labour Federation of Belgium (FGBT) analysis shows that Brussels has suffered from high unemployment compared to Flanders and Wallonia. Those who telework in and around the capital are the only ones who have not lost any purchasing power.

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The study compares how different employees throughout the country have been affected by the health crisis by dividing the workforce into four categories: teleworkers, essential workers, people in employment without social protection and those who are temporarily unemployed.

82% of the essential workers, such as supermarket cashiers, nurses and care assistants in nursing homes, are women. In the cleaning and food trade sectors, 78% and 62% receive a gross salary of less than €100 per day.

“It was said that the post-pandemic world would not be like the one before Covid. But it is in vain that we seek to revalue and fairly compensate those jobs,” FGBT general secretary Estelle Ceulemans said.

Workers without a social safety net, such as students, delivery staff, freelancers, flex workers and even artists, are next. For more than 50% of working students, their job is essential to survive. Without social security, workers of this category suffered the effects of the pandemic.

While it is impossible to assess their loss of income, the many calls for help directed towards the Public Centre for Social Welfare (CPAS) indicate the hardship faced by people lacking a social safety net.

Compared to December 2019, Brussels saw a growth of nearly 10% in the number of integration revenues allocated. That percentage steeply surpasses the 0.6% in Wallonia and 2.3% in Flanders.

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The temporary unemployed, the last category of workers, were said to have retained 100% of their purchasing power. However, the report notes a 29% loss in net salary for women and 21% for men. Once again, Brussels is paying the highest price.

Almost half of Brussels employees were temporarily unemployed at the end of the first quarter of 2020. In Wallonia, that was only 18%, while it was 23% in Flanders. A year later, the gap between the three regions remains virtually unchanged.

 

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