Temporary unemployment dropped in Brussels cafes, still high in hotels

Temporary unemployment dropped in Brussels cafes, still high in hotels
Credit: Belga

The number of staff members on temporary unemployment in Brussels’ cafes and bars dropped significantly in October, but remains much higher for those working in the region’s hotels.

In cafes and bars, temporary unemployment, the federal government’s support measure implemented during lockdowns and the closure of sectors, decreased from 41% in September to 8% in October, mainly due to Brussels’ nightlife restarting after months of closure, according to human resources specialist SD Worx.

“This sector employs many employees who were temporarily unemployed for a year and a half as a result of the coronavirus crisis,” Steven Rosseel, hospitality specialist at SD Worx said.

According to SD Worx’ data analysis, this is the first time that Covid-related temporary unemployment has fallen below 10% in the capital for bars and cafes. In other regions, it fell below this level earlier in the year.

Restaurants in Brussels have also registered a drop in the percentage of staff falling under the temporary unemployment measure, from 12.96% in September to 10.20% in October.

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Across all sectors in Belgium, the total percentage of days of temporary unemployment has decreased further, to the lowest level of temporary unemployment since the beginning of the crisis (0.75%).

“Fortunately, the figures are moving in the right direction. The number of employees who have to resort to this support measure continues to fall, but there are still regional and sectoral differences,” said Jean-Luc Vannieuwenhuyse of the SD Worx Knowledge Centre.

Slower improvement in other sectors

Meanwhile, many other sectors of which the restart has been more gradual are still relying on this measure, including the aviation sector, the hotel and catering industry and the cultural sector, which has again seen the number of bookings for cultural events go down since the fourth wave began.

In Brussels’ hotel industry, more than one in three days (35% of the days worked) are lost to the Covid temporary unemployment measure, a level that is much higher than in other regions and provinces in Belgium, according to SD Worx’ analysis of the salary data of 70,000 employers and almost one million employees in the private sector across the country.

“We noted a slight improvement during the month of August, despite a fickle tourist summer,” Rosseel said, adding that Brussels is still suffering from travel restrictions imposed by many Asian countries.

“Since last month, the trend is negative again and the increase of Covid infections will probably not improve the situation. A more successful winter season is much needed for the hotel sector in our capital.”

According to SD Worx figures, the situation for the hotel and catering industry in Belgium – which remains the sector with the highest temporary unemployment percentage – is still worrying, certainly taking into account the new measures introduced by the Consultative Committee on Wednesday to curb the spread of the virus.

“It remains to be seen what effect the new measures will have on our social life and the catering industry, knowing that the sector has not yet recovered from the previous corona measures: as the catering industry has lost a lot of staff and the sector has a record number of vacancies,” Rosseel said.

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