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Where are the available workers?

In 2018, the total number of those newly registered with the job centres of the Employment Agency was 297 294, or 27 108 fewer than in 2017. The services sector continued to account for the greatest share of job losses (42.2 % or 125 358 jobs lost), followed by the industrial sector (-18.7 % or 55 742 jobs lost), while the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector again accounted for the lowest number of unemployed persons newly registered with the job centres, with just -3.7 % (11 108 people) of jobs lost. Of the job losses, 35.3 % (105 086 people) were attributed to an unspecified sector or economic activity. This figure relates to the newly registered unemployed who had completed their upper secondary or higher education during the year, economically inactive persons, persons who did not identify the sector from which they had been made redundant or persons who had never worked (inactive).

In terms of economic activities, the largest proportion of people newly registered as unemployed in the job centres were made redundant from the manufacturing industry (14.3 %), commerce (12.4 %), public administration (9.3 %) and hospitality and restaurants (5.2 %), followed by people made redundant from the construction industry (3.5 %), transport, warehousing and postal services (2.9 %), real estate operations (2.2 %), administrative and support services (2.2 %), etc.

In terms of occupational structure, the largest category of unemployed persons registered with job centres in 2018 remained those without any qualifications or specialisation – a monthly average of 108 098 persons. This group accounted for 53.3 % of the total unemployment, or 1.3 percentage points lower than in 2017. The majority of these people had a lower secondary or lower level of education (82.2 %). They were followed by the groups registered as unemployed in the categories of blue-collar workers (24.7 %) and specialists (22.0 %). Among specialists, specialists in socio-economic areas and law accounted for the largest portion of unemployment (30.2 %) followed by engineers and other technical specialists (29.7 %) and specialists in the services, transport and security sectors (17.8 %). The next largest group were specialists in the agricultural sector (6.0 %) followed by education experts (5.2 %) and specialists in the humanities and arts (4.8 %). The smallest proportion of unemployed specialists were in the fields of mathematics and natural sciences (3.3 %) and healthcare (3.3 %).

In terms of educational level, almost half (43.7 %) of the unemployed persons registered with the job centres in 2018 had a lower secondary or lower level of education. This represents a fall of 1.9 percentage points. An increase of 0.8 percentage points to 12.7 % of all registered unemployed was reported with regard to people with higher education. The proportion of unemployed persons with completed upper secondary level of education rose by 1.0 percentage points compared to the previous year, reaching 43.6 %.


Information sources: Administrative statistics of the Employment Agency, the Workforce Survey conducted by the National Statistical Institute, Institute for Market Economics.

Text last edited on: 05/2019

Where are the available jobs?

In 2018, job centres in Bulgaria reported 201 551 jobs available on the primary labour market, or an increase of 3 736 compared to the previous year. The greatest demand at the job centres was for providers of personal services (chefs, waiting and bar staff, hairdressers, beauticians, urban transport ticket inspectors, entertainers, etc.), with a total of 29 506 such jobs advertised. A large number of jobs, 16 432, were offered in the mining and processing industries. The openings for operators of stationary machines and equipment numbered 15 019, and the jobs for workers in agriculture, forestry and fisheries (gardeners, plant breeders, animal breeders, forest workers and others) were 6 441. Demand remained high for shop assistants – 14 950 vacancies, assembly workers – 5 865 vacancies and HGV, car and bus drivers – 8 728 vacancies. The number of vacancies for skilled workers in the food, clothing, wood processing and related industries was significant and stood at 11 120. The positions for teachers and lecturers were close to 10 835. A total of 11 898 vacancies for workers in waste collection and 8 771 vacancies for metal-workers, machine builders and other craftsmen were advertised. When selecting personnel, employers prefer applicants displaying ‘flexible’ skills who are willing to quickly master new knowledge and have strong cognitive competences.


Text last edited on: 05/2019

Short overview of the labour market:

In 2018, Bulgaria’s economy entered a more advanced phase of expansion, with growth gradually shifting from consumption to investment. According to preliminary data, real GDP increased by about 3.5 % during the year. Real wages increased and so did household incomes and confidence, thus stimulating private consumption. Both public and, to a lesser extent, private investment contributed to GDP growth. Public consumption growth also increased, mainly due to higher wage and intermediate consumption costs. At the same time, regional disparities increased and are already hampering the country’s competitiveness. Production and incomes in Bulgaria were very unevenly distributed. The southern regions provided better conditions for investments. There were significant regional disparities both in socio-economic indicators and in unemployment and employment rates. This also explained the concentration of investment and the better infrastructure in the South-West region and the South-Central region. In these regions, the growing capital attracted qualified people in high added-value sectors, while in the rest of the country, employment growth was concentrated in sectors with lower added value.

 According to figures published by the National Statistical Institute, on 31 December 2017, Bulgaria’s population stood at 7 050 034, of whom 3 627 625 (51.5 %) were women and 3 422 409 (48.5 %) were men. The ratio of men to women was 1 000 to 1 060.

According to data from the Workforce Survey of the National Statistical Institute, in the fourth quarter of 2018 there were 3 303 000 economically active persons in Bulgaria, of whom 3 209 600 were in the 15-64 age group. In the same group, the economic activity rate was 71.1 %.

During the fourth quarter of 2018, the number of the employed aged 15 or more was 3 148 900 persons, of whom 3 058 400 people were in the 15-64 age group. The employment rate for this age group was 67.7 %. The largest proportion of the employed (61.5 %, or 1 937 900 persons) continue to work in the services sector, followed by those employed in industry (30.2 % or 951 600 persons) and the agricultural sector (6.1 % or 193 600 persons).

The unemployment rate among those aged 15-74 in Bulgaria in December 2018 (according to Eurostat data compatible with the other EU Member States’ data) was 5.2 %, compared to the EU average of 6.6 % (EU 28) and the Eurozone average of 7.9 % (EU 19).

In the fourth quarter of 2018, 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 (by 67 500 persons), accompanied by a fall in the number of the employed in the same age group (by 32 900 persons). The number of unemployed persons in the 15-64 age group fell compared to the same period of 2016 (by 29 800 persons). 

The administrative statistics compiled by the Employment Agency in December 2018 showed a significant drop in unemployment rates as compared to December 2017. The average monthly number of registered unemployed in Bulgaria was 202 994, marking a fall of 33 758 compared to the previous year.

The average monthly unemployment rate in 2018 calculated as a proportion of the economically active population in 2011 (based on the 2011 National Census)  was 6.2 %,  marking a 1.0 percentage point drop compared to 2017.

The largest companies in Bulgaria in 2017 in terms of revenue growth were: Lukoil – Bulgaria, Aurubis Bulgaria (Cumerio Copper), Bulgargas, Kaufland Bulgaria, Lukoil Neftochim – Burgas, Express Logistics & Distribution, Astra Bioplant, Naftex Petrol AD, Natsionalna Elektricheska Kompania, OMV Bulgaria, Saksa, CEZ Electro Bulgaria, Litex, Liebherr-Hausgeräte Marica, Mobiltel AD, Vivacom, Telenor, and others.

The top hundred companies with the largest number of employees in Bulgaria created 9 000 new jobs in 2018. The sectoral analysis shows that, for another year, new jobs were mainly created in industry, with just under half of them in the arms business. This demonstrates the leading role of export-oriented companies. The other sectors which expanded their staff were retail and outsourcing.


Text last edited on: 05/2019

Hot jobs:

Top 10 of the most required occupations in Bulgaria for the period 01.01.2019 – 30.06.2019

1. Odd job persons (ISCO 9622)

2. Waiters (ISCO 5131)

3. Room attendants (ISCO 5162)

4. Shop sales assistants (ISCO 5223)

5. Cooks (ISCO 5120)

6. Home-based personal care workers (ISCO 5322)

7. Cleaners and helpers in offices, hotels and other establishments (ISCO 9112)

8. Security guards (ISCO 5414)

9. Cashiers and ticket clerks (ISCO 5230)

10. Mixed crop growers (ISCO 6114), seasonal work

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