Corona: Belgian government among European middle tier for economic support measures
Belgian GDP and unemployment on average hit less hard than other countries
The Belgian government has turned in a solid performance at European level when it comes to its corona measures to keep the economy and the labour market up and running. This is shown by an international comparative study by The Adecco Group which takes in 10 European countries, the United States and Japan. Belgium largely owes its decent score to the introduction of its temporary unemployment scheme. Switzerland, Sweden and Germany are seen to record the best results. Spain and the United Kingdom are expected to be worst hit.
In spite of the wave of criticism elicited by the corona measures which the Belgian government put in place in recent months, our country is turning in a fair performance. An international report by The Adecco Group puts us in the European middle tier. This positive score is to be attributed to the support provided by the Belgian government to scores of salaried workers to keep the national economy afloat.
“The Belgian government made its reduced working time scheme more accessible to employees. By considering all forms of temporary unemployment as force majeure, employees in Belgium had easier access to a per diem benefit over and above their compensation for salary. This acted to keep up the average purchasing power of Belgian residents.”
Bettina Shäller, Head of Public Affairs – The Adecco Group
Limited corona impact on Belgian GDP and unemployment
The Belgian GDP and unemployment rate will be less affected than those in various other countries. The Adecco Group’s report finds that the corona crisis caused the Belgian GDP which was forecast in January to fall by 8.4%. This points to a comparatively moderate impact of the pandemic. Six other countries, including France (-9.5%) and Spain (-11%), need to reckon with a more several downturn of their GDP, the report suggests. The impact of the corona crisis on Belgium’s unemployment rate too is set to remain comparatively moderate, going up by 34.6% as a result of the the corona crisis. Five other countries are seen to do worse. According to the report, the United Kingdom (+81.1%), the Netherlands (+103.4%) and the United States (+148.6%) are even looking at (more than) twice the number of people expected to be made redundant.
Two factors have most powerful economic impact
The policies conducted by Switzerland, Sweden and Germany yielded the best economic projections across the board, according to The Adecco Group’s study. Unlike Spain and the United Kingdom, which perform poorly on all economic indicators. The HR organisation believes that the main explanation for this lies with two policy measures which had the biggest effect on the economic situation in the various countries during the corona crisis. For one thing, it is vital that countries effectively implement schemes in the area of reduced working time and do so in timely fashion. On the other hand, the amount of the financial
incentives governments are prepared to set aside to support their economies proves to be a deciding factor.
“Now that countries are starting to get to grips with the worst impacts of the pandemic, we are seeing an emerging picture of which countries have best managed to curb the damage to their economies and labour markets. By and large, it is safe to say that countries that responded swiftly in fielding economic support measures and keeping employees in work as widely as possible are achieving better results.”
Bettina Shäller, Head of Public Affairs – The Adecco Group
5 tips for policy makers
Based on the findings and international comparisons of the report, the HR group advises policy makers to focus on five action points to rein in the economic impact of the corona crisis:
- Be alert: countries that responded quickly and introduced economic incentives performed best.
- Support employment: reduced working time and similar schemes were conducive to keeping people in work and to preventing mass redundancies.
- Maintain economic activity: each week that goes by without economic activity exponentially drives up the negative repercussions, thereby diminishing the opportunities for economic recovery.
- Work side by side as decision makers: countries with a social dialogue model that is based on negotiation rather than confrontation, achieve better results and see greater confidence in the political process and greater consumer confidence.
- Effectively implement the financial support pledged: businesses and employees in a lot of countries have yet to actually receive the support promised, as detailed in the economic incentive schemes.
About the study
The study examined the situation in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, based on various key macroeconomic indicators at various times: January/February (pre-covid period), March/April (covid period) and May (follow-up within the covid period). The indicators of the United States and Japan were not measured in March/April, but only in May. As such, the results specified above refer to the status in May for all countries concerned.
Click here for the unabridged text of the study.
About the Adecco Group
The Adecco Group is the world’s leading HR solutions company. We believe in making the future work for everyone, and every day enable more than 3.5 million careers.
We skill, develop, and hire talent in 60 countries, enabling organisations to embrace the future of work. As a Fortune Global 500 company, we lead by example, creating shared value that fuels economies and builds better societies.
Our culture of inclusivity, entrepreneurship and teamwork empowers our 34,000 employees. We are proud to have been consistently ranked one of the ‘World’s Best Workplaces’ by Great Place to Work®.
The Adecco Group AG is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland (ISIN: CH0012138605) and listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange (ADEN) and powered by nine global brands: Adecco, Adia, Badenoch & Clark, General Assembly, Lee Hecht Harrison, Modis, Pontoon, Spring Professional and Vettery.