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The social balance sheet 2004

Listed author(s):
  • Ph. Delhez

    (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)

  • P. Heuse

    (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)

Registered author(s):

    Each year, in the 4th quarter’s Economic Review, the National Bank examines the provisional results of the social balance sheets. As all the social balance sheets are not yet available for 2004, the study is based on a limited population of enterprises, compiled according to the principle of a constant sample. This population is made up of 38,530 enterprises employing around 1,331,000 workers in 2004. The main results of the analysis, in terms of employment, working hours, labour cost and training, are as follows. Employment in the enterprises of the limited population increased by 0.3 p.c. on average between 2003 and 2004. The rise recorded at the end of the year is slightly higher, which points to an improvement in the course of the year. The growth of employment was particularly strong in the companies employing less than 50 full-time equivalents, whereas employment diminished in those employing over 250 workers. The health and social sector and construction proved to be most dynamic, whereas industry continued to reduce its staff. As usual, the improvement in the economic climate first translated in an increased use of more flexible working schemes : the downward trend recorded for some years in the share of fixed term employment contracts stopped and the enterprises filing full-format balance sheets revealed a sharp rise of work by temporary employment agency staff. However, there were still major differences between the various branches of activity as to the way they resort to those instruments. The adjustment of the production capacity to the growth in economic activity also showed in the increase in the average working hours. Thus, a rise was recorded for the number of full-time workers, i.e. a break with the downward trend observed since 1998. In some large enterprises, however, end-of-career workers benefited from extra days off, which affected average working hours. A new extension of the working hours of part-time workers was also recorded. In parallel, the share of part-time employment contracts increased significantly. The article stresses the differences between small and large enterprises and between the various branches of activity in the breakdown of workers by working scheme. Thus, in the small enterprises, which are particularly dynamic in job creation, the rise of part-time work mainly results from new engagements. In the large enterprises, on the other hand, it primarily results from the transition from full-time jobs to part-time jobs. The full-format balance sheets data allow to analyse some characteristics of the staff movements. The net inflow of workers has been broken down by their level of training and the gross outflow of workers by the reason for their leaving their job. In those areas as well, the enterprises show major differences according to their size and their branch of activity. Staff costs per hour worked increased by 1.9 p.c. on average between 2003 and 2004. The rise was slightly more marked for full-time workers. According to the results of an analysis based on a constant limited population over the period 2002-2004, the indicative wage norm of 5.4 p.c. was respected in most branches of activity, even though a rise exceeding that norm was observed in half of those enterprises. Finally, in spite of the concerns expressed by European and Belgian authorities, the formal training indicators again showed a drop in 2004, except for the participation rate. Especially the cost indicator, which relates the training budget to overall staff expenses, again fell, thus moving even further away from the 1,9 p.c. objective set in the successive central agreements signed since 1998.

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    Article provided by National Bank of Belgium in its journal Economic Review.

    Volume (Year): (2005)
    Issue (Month): iv (December)
    Pages: 57-89

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    Handle: RePEc:nbb:ecrart:y:2005:m:december:i:iv:p:57-89
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