According to our February forecast, quarterly GDP growth should remain limited to 0.3% on average in the course of 2010, which is about half of the quarterly growth in the second half of 2009. This slowdown is in line with the international business cycle, which should temporarily lose momentum to the extent that monetary and budgetary stimuli fade and restocking comes to an end. In the course of 2011, exports should pick up and domestic demand should gain momentum, resulting in average quarterly GDP growth of 0.6%. On a yearly basis, Belgian GDP should increase by 1.4% in 2010 and 1.7% in 2011, after a drop of 3% last year. This means that real GDP should remain below its pre-crisis level until late 2011.
Net job losses reached 23 200 persons on average in 2009 and should add up to 46 100 this year. This trend should reverse in 2011, with a net creation of 8 600 jobs. Given the evolution of the labour force, the number of unemployed (broad administrative definition) should increase by 52 900 persons this year (after going up by 45 000 persons in 2009) and by almost 29 000 persons in 2011. As a result, the harmonised Eurostat unemployment rate (which is based on labour force surveys) is expected to reach 8.8% in 2011, compared to 7% in 2008.
Headline inflation in Belgium, as measured by yoy growth of the national index of consumer prices, was negative from May to November 2009, which was mainly due to the negative impact of energy prices. As a result, overall inflation remained just below zero in 2009. At the end of last year, the base effect of the drop in energy prices had disappeared. Combined with a gradual increase in oil prices, headline inflation should rise to 1.7% in 2010 according to our inflation forecast of March.