Labour market information

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Bulgaria - National Level

Short overview of the labour market

 

The outbreak of COVID-19 in Bulgaria at the end of the first quarter of 2020 has caused the economic situation and short-term GDP growth outlook to deteriorate strongly. The measures taken to limit the spread and transmission of COVID-19 have had a serious adverse impact on economic activity across a number of sectors. The two lockdowns during the year have led to the closure of establishments, causing disruption in transport links and the introduction of checkpoints between large cities, which forced many enterprises, including in the industrial sector, to put their operations on hold. In this situation, the number of unemployed persons has sharply increased. By way of illustration, in the short space of the first two weeks of April the number of newly registered unemployed stood at 25 631 persons (week 30 March to 5 April), increasing to 31 499 persons in the week 6 April to 12 April. For a short period in May, the total number of unemployed persons registered with job centres exceeded 300 000.

 

However, the relaxation of the lockdown brought in to slow down the spread of COVID-19, coupled with the activation of employment support schemes enabled the flow of unemployed persons newly registered with job centres to be curbed relatively quickly, and the second lockdown did not result in such a dramatic rise in the level of unemployment.

 

The sharp increase of economic uncertainty is another negative factor that constrained labour market development. This has resulted in lower consumption, suspension of manufacturing and the postponement of investment decisions and has logically also cooled off new job creation. The number of persons who found a job through job centres in April and December 2020, i.e. during the periods of strict lockdown, is at least twice lower [compared to other periods during the year].

 

These negative trends are corroborated by Q4 2020 data from the labour force survey conducted by the National Statistical Institute (NSI). The economic activity ratio for the age group 15 to 64 years stood at 72.7 %, registering a decrease of 0.3 percentage point compared to the fourth quarter of 2019. The employment ratio for the age group of 15 to 64 years decreased by 1.2 percentage points to 68.8 % as compared to the same quarter of 2019. The unemployment rate stood at 5.2 %, which represents an increase of 1 percentage point as compared to Q4 2019. There were a total of 621 000 unemployed persons in the age group 15 to 64 years, or 5.2 % of all economically active persons in the same age group.

 

In Q4 2020, the total number of employed persons aged 15 years and more stood at 3 126 900 people. This represents a decrease of 3.0 % as compared to Q4 2019. The relative share of employed persons in the age groups of 15 years and more stood at 52.9 % (59.8 % for men and 46.6 % for women).

According to data published by the National Statistical Institute, as at 31 December 2019 Bulgaria’s population stood at 6 951 482, of whom 3 581 836 (51.5 %) were women and 3 369 646 (48.5 %) were men. The men to women ratio was 1 000 to 1 063.

 

According to data from the Workforce Survey of the National Statistical Institute, in Q4 2020 there were 3 299 900 economically active persons in Bulgaria, of whom 3 200 400 were in the age group 15 to 64 years. The economic activity rate for the same age group stood at 72.7 %.

In Q4 2020, the number of employed persons aged 15 years or more stood at 3 126 900, of whom 3 029 700 people were in the age group 15 to 64 years. The economic activity rate for the same age group stood at 68.8 %. The largest share and number of employed persons (62.7 % or 1 959 300 persons) worked in the services sector, followed by those employed in the industry sector (30.8 % or 963 600 persons) and in agriculture (6.5 % or 204 000 persons).

 Compared to the same quarter of 2019, the number of employed persons decreases in all economic sectors, with the largest decrease of 74 000 people or 3.6 % in the services sector.

 

Data for Q4 2020 from the workforce survey conducted by the National Statistical Institute indicates a year-on-year decrease in the number of economically active persons in the age group 15 to 64 years (by 57 800 persons), along with a decrease in the number of employed persons in the same age group (by 93 800 persons). The number of unemployed persons in the age group 15 to 64 years increased as compared to figures for the same period of 2019 by 36 000 persons.

 

The average monthly number of unemployed persons in Bulgaria in the period between January and December 2020 stood at 241 413, which represents an increase of 56 147 persons compared to same period of the previous year.

 

The average monthly unemployment rate in the first half of 2020, calculated as a share of the economically active population in 2011 (figures are based on the 2011 census), stood at 7.4 %. This was 1.8 percentage points higher than the figure for the same period of 2019.

 

In 2020, the largest companies in terms of revenue growth in Bulgaria were: Lukoil Neftohim — Burgas, Aurubis Bulgaria (Cumerio Med), Lukoil — Bulgaria, Bulgarian Energy Holding AD, Astra Bioplant, Saksa, Kaufland Bulgaria, Bulgargas, KOZLODUY Nuclear Power Plant, LIDL BULGARIA & CO, Express Logistics and Distribution, Naftex Petrol AD, OMV Bulgaria, CEZ Electro Bulgaria, Litex, Liebherr — Hausgeräte Marica, Mobiltel AD, Vivacom, Telenor, etc.

 

These include the largest Bulgarian companies operating in the energy sector and the fuel industry, and large retail chains. According to the latest NSI survey 41.0% of non-financial sector companies indicated that they had experienced a decrease in revenue from goods or services sold compared to the previous month due to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, 43.4 % indicated that they did not experience a change in sales and 15.1 % reported an increase.

 

По отношение на наетия персонал 25.3% от нефинансовите предприятия са направили стъпки за ползване на „платен отпуск“, следват „неплатен отпуск“ - 20.3%, „дистанционна форма на работа“ - 16.4%, и „възползване от правителствени мерки за подпомагане на работодателите“ - 10.5% . Освобождаване/съкращаване на наети лица са предприели 8,8% от предприятията. https://www.nsi.bg/sites/default/files/files/pressreleases/ACT_NF2020-12_covid.pdf

 

Text last edited on: 05/2021