UNEMPLOYMENT DOWN, POVERTY GROWS
The number of working people is constantly rising, albeit at a slow speed. Moreover, that is not only a summer trend when seasonal workers are usually hired. According to the monthly analysis of the Employment Agency, the unemployment rate in July was 5.96%, having dropped by just 0.01% in the last month, but by 17.7% for the last year (vs July 2007). The seventh month of 2008 was lucky for 210 jobless people who succeeded to find work, and as a result the number of unemployed dropped to 220,879, registered at the labour offices.
Despite all the positive tendencies on the labour market, however, unemployment in 19 municipalities is still above the average level for the country. It is the highest in Targovishte (13.11%), followed by Shoumen (10.96%), Montana (10.84%), Smolyan (10.81%), Razgrad (10.42%) and Vidin (10.07%). Even a slight growth in the unemployment rate has been registered in these regions due to the large-scale lay-offs in some companies, and the larger number of teachers and non-pedagogical staff, registered at employment offices.
The bad news came from the Federation of European Employers which announced during the week that Bulgarians are still the most low-paid citizens in the European Union (EU). According to the organisation's survey, an employee in Bulgaria's private sector gets EUR1.2/hour while the remuneration in neighbouring Romania is EUR2.2/hour. The weekly pay in our country is some EUR50 vs EUR810 in Germany. It's still more impressive that the minimum wage in Bulgaria is EUR110, or about 13 times lower than in the United Kingdom where it is at least EUR1,400. The best paid citizens in the newer EU members are (as expected) those in Slovenia. They get almost EUR6/hour. They are followed by Croatians who get EUR5/hour.
The dangerous tendency of Bulgarians' impoverishment was also confirmed by a report of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy on the implementation of the National Programme for Social Involvement in 2006-2008. Judging from the data, made public on Tuesday (August 19), 57% of the families with three children fall into the poor category and their number rose by 25.5% in 2008 as compared to last year. One-member families are vulnerable too - 39.9% of them live on the poverty line. Only families with two children showed a decrease of the poverty level in 2007(11.8%) as compared to 2005 (16.7 per cent). Poverty among people older than 65 and younger than 24 is also high - 17.7% and 15.5% respectively. As compared to 2005 the level of poverty rose by 3.7% for the unemployed and by 1.1% for the retirees, the Social Ministry's report reads.