According to the ManpowerGroup Employment Survey released today, Belgian employers plan to continue to create jobs in the first quarter of 2023, despite the unfavourable economic climate. According to the ManpowerGroup survey of 510 employers conducted at the end of October(1), 41% of them plan to increase their workforce over the next three months, while 18% plan to reduce their workforce. 36% of employers surveyed expect no change. After adjusting for seasonal variations, the Net Employment Outlook(2) – or the difference between the percentage of employers anticipating hires and the percentage anticipating layoffs – stands at a positive +23%. This is a significant decrease of 10 percentage points from the previous quarter and 11 percentage points from Quarter 1 2022. It is the third time in a row that the quarterly Net Employment Outlook weakens.
“Not surprisingly, our survey indicates that the impact of a possible global recession and the deterioration of the economic situation is being felt in the labour market, even if the slowdown is not as pronounced as might have been expected,” explains Sébastien Delfosse, Managing Director of ManpowerGroup BeLux. “This turbulent phase that employers and workers are going through is resulting in greater caution. While companies are still looking for qualified personnel in a context of talent shortage, they continue to do their utmost to keep their workforce intact in order to be ready when the recovery comes. Despite cost pressures, employers are looking to limit the use of layoffs – although one in five employers surveyed are anticipating this option in Q1 2023. Against this uncertain political and economic backdrop, the labour market can be expected to remain under severe pressure over the next six months.”
Employers in all three regions of the country report positive hiring intentions: more optimistic in Brussels (+32%) and more cautious in Flanders (+19%) and Wallonia (+18%). In all three regions, employment prospects are down both quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year, indicating a slowdown in labour market activity.
Employers in eight of the nine industry sectors surveyed(3) expect to create new jobs by the end of March. Demand for skilled workers remains strong, with employers in the Finance & Real Estate sector (+41%) and IT sector (+37%) reporting the strongest hiring activity. Employers in the Energy sector also report a relatively positive Ooutlook (+33%). Employers also report positive hiring intentions in the Public Services/Education/Other sectors (+25%), Healthcare/LifeSciences (+22%), Manufacturing/Construction/Agriculture & Fishing (+22%) and in the Transport, Logistics and Automobiles sector (+19%). Recruitment intentions are significantly weaker in the Consumer Goods & Services sector (+9%) and nil in the Telecommunications, Media & Communications sector (0%).
With the exception of the IT sector, where the Net Employment Outlook is up 7 percentage points quarter-over-quarter, and the Public Sector/Education/Other sector, where it is up 3 percentage points, employers anticipate a slowdown in hiring across all sectors surveyed.
Employers anticipate the strongest hiring slowdown in the Large Business segment (≥ 250 workers), with the Net Employment Outlook standing at +22%, declining by a remarkable 15 percentage points quarter-over-quarter and by 24 percentage points comparted to Quarter 1 2022. Employers report stronger hiring intentions in the Small Businesses segment (10-49 workers), with a Net Employment Outlook of +28%, and in the Medium employers sector (50-249 workers), with a Net Employment Outlook of +30%. In contrast, employers in the Microenterprise sector (<10 workers) are the most pessimistic (+15%).
Hiring intentions for Quarter 1 2023 are positive in 39 of the 41 countries and territories surveyed, with only Poland (-2%) and Hungary (-8%) reporting negative Outlooks. With a Net Employment Outlook of +23%, Belgium is on a par with the global average and above the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) average (+18%).
Belgium (+23%) ranks seventh in Europe behind Austria (+29%), Turkey (+29%), Finland (+27%), France (+27%), Ireland (+25%) and Switzerland (+24%), but ahead of the Netherlands (+20%), the UK (+19%), Germany (+17%), Italy (+10%) and Spain (+3%).
At the global level, the strongest Outlooks are reported in Panama (+39%), Costa Rica (+35%) and Canada (+34%). Employment Outlooks are above the global average in India (+32%), the United States (+29%), Brazil (+27%) and China (+25%), whilst they are significantly lower in Japan (+8%). Globally, the Outlook weakens in 29 countries and territories compared with the previous quarter, but improves in 12. In the EMEA region, Net Employment Outlooks worsens in 17 countries, whilst improving in seven others.
The results of the next ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey will be released on 14 March 2023 (Quarter 2 2023).
(1) The ManpowerGroup survey was conducted between 15 and 31 October 2022.
(2) Throughout this report, we use the term “Net Employment Outlook.” This figure is derived by taking the percentage of employers anticipating an increase in hiring activity and subtracting from this the percentage of employers expecting to see a decrease in employment at their location in the next quarter. The result of this calculation is the Net Employment Outlook. Net Employment Outlooks for countries and territories that have accumulated at least 17 quarters of data are reported in a seasonally adjusted format unless otherwise stated. Seasonally adjusted data are not available for Croatia.
(3) From Q1 2023, sectors have been standardised across all markets to modernise sector reporting and allow for global comparisons. The nine sectors analysed are as follows: