Currently, employment in Belgium is at a high, with 71.9% of people aged 20-64 are employed. This number is continuing to rise year on year. “Never before have so many people been at work,” Statbel’s latest Labour Force Survey reveals.
But when one zooms out, the statistics look less favourable. More than half of Brussels residents struggle to make ends meet and most Belgians fear for their purchasing power. While more Belgians are in work, they are also working more to make ends meet.
The number of people working two jobs has increased sharply. In the first quarter of 2021, some 204,000 employed people worked a second job. Just a year later, this figure has risen to 265,000. Now around 5% of all employed people are working two jobs.
The percentage of Belgians working a second job increased across all categories. 4% of young people, 6.2% of 25-49-year-olds, and 3.9% of people over 55 have a second job alongside their main employment. Men are more likely to work a second job than women .
Second jobs are most common among the highly-skilled. In the space of a year, this percentage of these people working two jobs increased by 1.6%. Medium-skilled workers are also taking on more second jobs, rising by 0.7% since 2021.
The low-skilled, however, are working two jobs less frequently. Only 2% now work two jobs, compared to 2.6% at the start of 2021.
The rise of second jobs does reveal a growing culture of “side-hustles”, small home-grown businesses that help supplement incomes from ordinary employment. Of all those with a second job, 85% are employees in their main job. 57.9% are their own boss in their second job. Popular second businesses include drop-shipping, online commerce, cosmetics, and freelance writing projects.
Unfortunately, for many, second jobs are a necessity, not a luxury. They help supplement incomes from jobs which do not meet the needs of employees.
Trade unions, which went on strike across Belgium on 20 June, claim that Belgium’s wage indexation is not enough to keep up with rapidly rising prices, with protestors calling for better wages to cope with inflation.