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Bulgaria: How Much Did Unemployment Decrease in the Summer?

Summer is a period of declining unemployment, mainly due to seasonal employment and in particular in agriculture and tourism. The monthly data of the Employment Agency show how many are unemployed for June, July and August 2021.

The total number of newcomers to work in the summer is nearly 60 thousand people. Most are in the capital Sofia (5688 people) and the districts of Blagoevgrad (4408 people), Plovdiv (3826 people), Burgas (3831 people) and Varna (3362 people).

While the high number of newcomers in the capital and Plovdiv is typical due to the generally large population, and in Burgas and Varna due to seasonal employment in seaside resorts, the labor market in Blagoevgrad district was one of the most affected by the pandemic and the increase in the number of newcomers to work is extremely favorable for the restoration of employment in the area.

The lowest number of newcomers is in the districts of Yambol (880 people), Vidin and Targovishte (1031 people each).

At the municipal level, as a whole, most are employed in the regional centers – the municipalities of Stolichna, Varna, Burgas, Plovdiv, Pleven, Dobrich, Ruse, Stara Zagora, Veliko Tarnovo, Sliven. They are the smallest in small municipalities.

Given the different scales of the labor markets and the development of employment and unemployment in the individual municipalities, it is more interesting and indicative to consider the number of new entrants in relation to the labor force.

Data on the number of new entrants in the summer compared to the number of economically active persons show the movement of labor markets in different regions and for different reasons:

Moving the poorest and most remote areas – parts of Northwestern Bulgaria, Kardzhali, Smolyan;

Recovery from the negatives of the pandemic and the restrictions – Blagoevgrad region;

Employment in agriculture – parts of Northeast and North Central Bulgaria;

Employment in maritime tourism – coastal areas in Eastern Bulgaria.

In most of the municipalities with the largest share of newcomers to the labor force, unemployment remains high and vacancies are low, but summer data show favorable trends. The question remains how this picture will change with the onset of autumn and expectations for new business restrictions.