US Top 50

US Top 50 holds steady

  Belgium Germany France Netherlands
2011 132,200 620,600 478,000 221,900
2012 130,500 620,500 452,500 223,300
2013 125,900 614,200 451,700 228,600
2014 129,600 701,000 479,000 244,000
2015 130,100 701,700 478,500 241,900
2016 123,500 711,800 476,100 245,300
2017 123,700 661,400 495,000 272,900
2018 125,000 674,100 496,700 262,300
2019 124,400 682,100 501,700 259,400

Changes in US employment figures, in Belgium and elsewhere, are driven in part by changes in corporate ownership. For example, the noticeable dip in US employment in Germany in 2017 is most likely due to General Motors’s sale of Opel that year. It is also the case in Belgium that some of the companies which appeared in previous editions of our US Top 50 are no longer US owned (e.g. Temco or Monsanto).

But M&A activity is not sufficient to explain the decline in US employment in Belgium. While many US companies continue to invest and create jobs here – McDonald’s created almost 3,000 new jobs over the past 10 years, climbing from 11th to 2nd in our US Top 50 – in aggregate, Belgium is losing out to neighboring countries, where US employment is growing.

The real culprit is the high cost of labor in Belgium. High labor costs have led some US companies to relocate their operations, and they are also one of the reasons why the country is not winning more job-creating investments. In a context of high inflation, Belgium’s system of automatic wage indexation will only put further pressure on labor costs.

AmCham Belgium has high ambitions for the country: We hope that this year’s US Top 50, holding steady after years of decline, is the beginning of a reversal. We believe that Belgium has the right ingredients to attract net positive US employment, as we see in neighboring countries, but further labor market reforms will be needed to ensure that costs are competitive and talent remains available.