Over 70,000 full-time jobs were lost in the first quarter of 2020
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Over 70,000 full-time jobs were lost in the first quarter of 2020

Credit: Belga

Around 70,900 full-time jobs were lost in the first quarter of 2020, Federal Minister of Social Affairs Maggie De Block told the VRT on Wednesday.

In previous years, the social security system recorded a growth of 1 to 1.5 percentage points in the first quarter, representing around 45,000 full-time jobs.

In the first quarter of 2020, a decline of 70,900 full-time jobs was recorded, according to De Block, while containment measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) were not taken until mid-March.

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“We are talking about 70,000 jobs, including temporary unemployment. This means that a large proportion of these people have since returned to work,” De Block said.

The challenge is “gigantic,” according to De Block, and a recovery policy needs to be put in place so that as many people as possible can go back to work.

Such a recovery policy requires “a fully functioning government,” she said. However, she did not comment on the ongoing discussions to form this new executive. “I am not going to comment on that. I have confidence in the negotiators.”

The government formation puzzle that Belgium has been facing is far from over, though. A recent plan put forward by Paul Magnette and Conner Rousseau (leaders of the francophone and Dutch-speaking socialist party respectively) as the only option, did not receive the support of an absolute majority in the House of Representatives. Leaders of the three governing parties will now take over and start leading new negotiations.

The Brussels Times