Analysis of the Current Situation and Tendencies on the Labour Market and Workforce in Bulgaria


- The analysis relies on data for the period 2005-2009 and aims at researching the current situation and expected tendencies on the labour market in sector and regional aspect, including demographic tendencies, educational and qualification structure etc.

-  The analysis is to be further updated on annual basis.



The population of the country has been progressively decreasing and in 2009 it reached down 7 563 710 million. It has decreased by 42 841 people in comparison to 2008.  The population has thinned down by 627 166 for the period 2004 - 2009 and by 1 203 598 people for a twenty-year period - or approximately by the size of a city as big as Sofia.

Ø  Birth rate 

The process has stabilized since 1997 and the number of liveborn children was 80 956 in 2009 which is 3 244 more than in 2008 and the highest level since 1994. The number of liveborn children for the period 2005-2009 increased by 9 881 which will exert a positive impact on the workforce in the short term. In 2009 the birth rate reached back its level from 1991, or 10.7 per 1000, which is the highest level in the last 18 years. Nevertheless, population reproduction in the following years shall suffer the negative impact of the decreasing number of women in generative age, who are 77 991 fewer for the period 2005-2009 and 293 593 fewer than they were in 1989.

The ethnical character of the birth rate issues poses a serious challenge before the possibility to develop qualitative workforce. Roma excessive birth rate, along with its marginalization creates potentially endangered communities and generations of asocial behviour, which would be hard to take care of by the State in terms of their social inclusion.  

Ø  Death rate

Death rate is a natural process which has now turned into a tangible social one, affecting younger and younger generations. One of four deaths is of a Bulgarian under 65 years. A growing tendency is the death of men in their 40-59, which presents 18.2% of all early deaths. This tendency affects negatively the workforce because it is in their 40-59 that men have acquired highest qualification skills and richest experience.

Infant mortality for the period 1991-2009 decreased from 16.9 per 1000 to 9 per 1000. EU average infant mortality, however, is 4.9 per 1000 in comparison.

There is a steady tendency for population aging and deterioration of workforce age structure. It has affected the quality and quantity labour resources of the country. The number of employed people in the 55-64 age group grew by 34.5% for the period 2004-2009; however, this was due to the incensement in the retirement age.


Ø  Employment ratio

There has been a steady tendency in recent years for increase in employed people number. In 2009 the percentage of employed in the 15-64 age group was 8.8% higher than in 2005. The general activity rate is 7.4 points lower than the envisaged objective of the Lisbon Strategy.

Employment ratio depends heavily on the education and vocational qualification. In 2009 the activity rate among people with higher education is 72.7%, 61.6% have secondary education, 23.2% have less than secondary education, while 11.2% are people with primary or less education. 

Ø  Concentration of qualitative labour resource  

There is a growing tendency for concentration of qualitative labour resource in particular regions of the country. The analysis data show that about 75% of the people, who pay social contributions work in 12 major regional centers.  

Ø  Illiteracy increase and education deterioration among young people under 24 years 

Illiteracy increase and education deterioration among young people under 24 years produces a negative impact on the future demographic development and especially on the workforce quality. One of five people has less than secondary education. Illiteracy enhances social risks such as unemployment, poverty, lack of adequate health and education care. Poor education also presupposes lack of motivation for high qualified career development and fulfilled participation in social life. These factors shall further produce a negative impact on the quality workforce in the following 10-15 years.

Ø  Average insurance income and average remuneration

The average insurance income for the period 2005-2009 increased by 67.29% which remained lower than the average remuneration growth. Regardless of the poor economic processes, the average insurance income in 2009 increase by 10.8% in comparison to 2008.   

Ø  Employment diversity and working time organization

The most popular employment form is the permanent labour contract work.  Part-time working people are a small portion in comparison to all employed people - for the period 2005-2009 they are 2.08%, which is the lowest percentage in the EU. 


Ø  Migration in the EU countries 

Almost 31 million foreign citizens lived in the EU by January, 1 2008. 11.3 million of them are citizens from other EU member states, while the rest 19.5 million come from countries outside the EU.  There is a high emigration level in the newly acceded countries such as Bulgaria, Romania, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, while the lowest emigration rate is to be encountered in the Czech Republic and Hungary.

Ø  Migration in Bulgaria

Different data points out that 500 000 to 700 000 Bulgarian citizens have emigrated since 1990. Generally, the emigrants have high educational status - about 75% of all have secondary and higher education and about 20% have higher education. 

A serious problem is the skyrocketing number of young people who leave the country to study abroad. Their approximate number is about 50 000. The Bulgarians who work abroad tend not to come back, as it was first expected, due to economic reasons.


There was a serious drop in the workforce and the number employed people in 2009 in comparison to 2008, due to the economic crisis aftermath.


    • Workforce percentage in the 15-64 age group decreased by 1.8% in 2009 in comparison to 2008. Population, however, has decreased by only 0.9% i.e. the workforce decrease rate is two times the population decrease rate.


    • Young people under 34 years have been most seriously affected by the crisis, especially the 25-34 age group.


    • The 55-64 age group and the 34-44 age group have been least affected by the crisis.




    • By economic sectors the employment rate in 2009 is highest in the production sector and lowest in the sectors Telecommunication, Development and Distribution of Intellectual Products and Information.


    • By regions and districts there is an unequal distribution of employed people. The number of employed people in Southern Bulgaria is almost twice the number of employed people in Northern Bulgaria. The percentage in the South-western region in 2005 was highest - 34.28% and has increased to 37.47%, while in all other regions it decreased. The percentage was lowest in the North-western region - 10.13% in 2005 and has decreased to 8.87%.


Workforce mobility is one of the factors which exerts influence on the workforce potential to endure the constantly changing economic conditions and the changes brought about by technical and technological development.