Labour market information

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Bulgaria - National Level

Short overview of the labour market

Confirming expectations of continued positive development, the labour market in 2016 showed a sustainable growth rate in the demand for labour and a decrease in unemployment. The GDP growth in the past few quarters, supported both by an increase in household consumption and by exports of goods and services, is a guarantee of a sustainable and stable labour market. Employment rates continued growing, and according to data of the National Statistical Institute, the number of employees reached 2.7 million people at the end of September, i.e. 40 200 people more year-on-year and 74 700 people more than in September 2014.  Against this background, registered unemployment in Bulgaria continued its downward trend from 2015 at a slightly accelerated rate, and at the end of the year the drop in the number of registered unemployed persons reached 20.6%, its strongest value since the pre-crisis year 2008. 

The number of registered unemployed persons decreased in all provinces of the country at rates varying from 28.6% in Pernik to 12.2% in Silistra. In 12 of the 28 provinces, mostly in the South-West and the South-Central regions, the rate of decrease in unemployment was higher than the national average. In the north, this was the case only in the provinces of Gabrovo, Razgrad, Dobrich and Lovech. The provinces with the weakest unemployment decrease rates are Silistra, Targovishte, Kardzhali, Burgas and Sofia (the capital city as a separate province).

According to figures published by the National Statistical Institute, as at 31 December 2015 the population of Bulgaria stood at 7 153 800 inhabitants, of whom 3 676 600 (51.4%) were women and 3 477 200 (48.6%) were men.

According to data from the Workforce Survey of the National Statistical Institute, in the fourth quarter of 2016 there were 3 220 800 economically active persons in Bulgaria, of whom 3 153 800 were in the 15-64 age group. In the same group, the economic activity rate was 68.0%. 

During the fourth quarter of 2016, the number of employed persons aged 15 or more was 3 005 900 persons, of whom 2 941 900 people were in the 15-64 age group. The employment rate for this age group was 63.4%. The largest proportion of employed persons (61.3% or 1 843 300 persons) continue to work in the services sector, followed by those employed in industry (30.1% or 905 800 persons) and the agricultural sector (7.4 % or 189 100 persons).

The unemployment rate among those aged 15-74 in Bulgaria in December 2016 (according to EUROSTAT data compatible with the other EU Member States' data) was 7.1%, compared with the EU average of 8.3% (EU 28) and the Eurozone average of 9.8% (EU 19). 

In the fourth quarter of 2016, the Workforce Survey conducted by the National Statistical Institute noted a year-on-year drop in the number of economically active persons in the 15-64 age group (- 105 100 persons), accompanied by a decrease in the number of employed persons in the same age group (- 57 700 persons). The number of unemployed persons in the 15-64 age group decreased as compared to the same period of 2015 (- 47 400 persons).  

The administrative and statistical data compiled by the Employment Agency for December 2016 showed a significant drop in unemployment rates as compared to December 2015. The average monthly number of registered unemployed persons in Bulgaria was 284,707, marking a decrease by 67,906 year-over-year. 

The average monthly unemployment rate in 2016, calculated as a proportion of the economically active population in 2011 /based on the 2011 National Census/,  was 8.7%, marking a 1.4-percentage-point decrease as compared to 2015. 

The largest companies in Bulgaria in 2016 continue to be: Aurubis Bulgaria (Cumerio Med), Bulgargas, Kaufland Bulgaria, Lukoil – Bulgaria, Lukoil Neftochim – Burgas, Naftex Petrol AD, the National Electricity Company, OMV Bulgaria, Saxa, CEZ Electro Bulgaria, Mobiltel AD, Vivacom, Stomana Industry, Overgas Inc., Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant, EVN Bulgaria Elektrosnabdyavane [EVN Bulgaria Electricity Supply], Sofia Med, KCM, Mini Maritsa Iztok EAD, Navigation Maritime Bulgaria, DSK Bank, Unicredit Bulbank, Asarel Medet, Ellatzite Med, Ideal Standard – Vidima, Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling Company Bulgaria, Bulgaria Air, Sopharma Trading, Glavbolgarstroy AD, Papas Olio AD, PST Holding, the National Railway Infrastructure Company, BDZ, Geotechmin, Kaven Orbico OOD, Maritsa East 3 Thermal Power Plant, Toplivo, Neochim, Solvey Sodi, Somat, Sutherland Global Services Bulgaria EOOD, SE Bordnetze Bulgaria EOOD and others.

Text last edited on: 04/2017

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