2018 – high wages and low unemployment in Bulgaria

According to data from the Institute of Market Economics (IME), 2018 is expected to be the year of higher wages due to the lack of staff in Bulgaria. The trend in the labor market for a lack of qualified workers is inherent for Europe as a whole and Bulgaria is no exception.

For the previous year, the increase of earnings was about 10%, according to information from IME. With the growth rate of the GDP during the last few years, as well as the increase of employment and wages, one could expect a quality change in the economy. 2017 was a record year in terms of employment – 68% of the people from ages 15 to 64.

However, the disproportionate development of each region continues to be a problem for Bulgaria. According to data from IME, 70% of the new job openings are concentrated in the province of Sofia, Plovdiv and Stara Zagora – the strong and active economic centers, whereas all new job openings in Northern Bulgaria are less than those in Plovdiv.

Another difference between the employed people in Bulgaria is linked to the education level. According to the IME Director, the economic growth has an effect on highly qualified workers, but none on those with no qualification

According to an analysis of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), the number of unemployed people in Bulgaria has gone down by 45% for the past 13 years – from 449.1 thousand to 247,2 thousand people for the period 2003-2016. The unemployment rate has decreased from 13.7% in 2003 to 7.6% in 2016 and for the third quarter of 2017 it reached a level of 5.8% according to the National Statistical Institute (NSI). According to the latest data, only Romania has a lower unemployment than Bulgaria with a rate of 5.2%. Significantly higher unemployment rates can be seen in neighboring countries – Serbia (15.6%), Macedonia (23.2%), Greece (20.7%), Turkey (10.7%), according to information from the IMF for 2017.

The number of unemployed people with a secondary education is the highest – 99.6 thousand; people with primary education or lower – 65.3 thousand and the least amount of unemployed people is among those with higher education – 35.2 thousand. A big part of them can’t find a job because of their low qualifications and there are another 205 thousand people, who are not looking for a job at all.

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