This paper presents an estimation of employment sustained directly and indirectly by exports based on an export-heterogeneous input-output table. In this table, manufacturing industries are disaggregated according to the exporter status of firms in order to account for within-industry differences in input structures. According to our results, export-sustained employment in Belgium amounted to 1.32 million jobs in 2010, which corresponds to 29.5 % of total employment.
Employment sustained by exports comprises not only jobs in export-oriented firms but also jobs in their upstream suppliers. Calculations of export-sustained employment are traditionally based on input-output tables combined with industry-level employment data. In these tables, firms are grouped into industries according to the type of goods and services they produce and technological homogeneity of firms within industries is taken for granted. However, prior work has revealed major within-industry differences between exporters and non-exporters, in particular in terms of productivity and use of imported inputs. Estimations of export-sustained employment will therefore be biased if this heterogeneity is not taken into account.
To address this problem, this paper presents export-heterogeneous input-output tables and employment data for Belgium. In these data, manufacturing industries are broken down by export intensity, i.e. into export-oriented firms and domestic market firms. Using these data allows (i) to confirm that within industries the production process of export-oriented manufacturers is different from that of other firms, and (ii) to improve the estimation of export-sustained employment. According to our calculations, export-sustained employment amounted to 1.32 million jobs in 2010 or 29.5% of total employment in Belgium.