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The 2009 social balance sheet


  • P. Heuse

    (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)

  • H. Zimmer

    (National Bank of Belgium, Research Department)


The impact of the economic recession on employment is reflected in the information gleaned from social balance sheets filed for the year 2009. Staff numbers were down by 1.2 p.c. compared with 31 December 2008, which is more than double the average annual decline. As evidence of the use that firms have made of the various flexibility instruments available to help reduce the volume of labour, part-time employment increased in 2009, at the expense of full-time jobs, mainly because of the shift from full-time work schedules towards shorter working hours. Job losses took a proportionally higher toll on men than on women, and manual workers have been affected more than employees or management staff. Large enterprises had to face more staff cuts than SMEs. Among the different branches of activity, job losses were the heaviest in industry, followed by the financial services and insurance sector. Some job creation was still observed in certain branches, including health and social work. Workers affected by temporary lay-offs for economic reasons and by the crisis measures remain on their employer’s staff register, which has tended to limit the drop in the number of workers in employment, while the volume of hours worked, which is directly influenced by these measures, felt considerably in 2009. Combined with this decline, the increase with 3.8 p.c. of the average hourly labour costs led to an increase in staff costs of barely half a percentage point. Despite a rise in the number of training firms, budgets for both formal and informal training were revised downwards in 2009. In all, firms devoted 1.63 p.c. of staff costs to training their workers, compared with 1.72 p.c. a year earlier, a contraction that reflects the pro-cyclical nature of this expenditure. By contrast, participation rates among workers were higher, except where informal training was concerned.

Suggested Citation

  • P. Heuse & H. Zimmer, 2010. "The 2009 social balance sheet," Economic Review, National Bank of Belgium, issue iii, pages 133-169, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbb:ecrart:y:2010:m:december:i:iii:p:133-169

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Reint Gropp & Jukka Vesala, 2004. "Deposit Insurance, Moral Hazard and Market Monitoring," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 8(4), pages 571-602.
    2. Douglas W. Diamond & Philip H. Dybvig, 2000. "Bank runs, deposit insurance, and liquidity," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, pages 14-23.
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    Cited by:

    1. Claude Mathys, 2011. "Economic importance of the Belgian ports: Flemish maritime ports, Liège port complex and the port of Brussels – Report 2009," Working Paper Document 215, National Bank of Belgium.

    More about this item


    employment; staff costs; training; working hours; employment contract; full-time; part-time; skills; temporary worker;

    JEL classification:

    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions
    • M53 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Training


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