Bulgaria’s Q4 unemployment rate drops to 10.6%

Bulgaria’s unemployment rate fell to 10.6% in the fourth quarter of 2014, down by 2.4 percentage points from a year earlier, data from the National Statistical Institute (NSI) showed on February 16.

The statistics office said the number of people  out of work dropped to 345,000 in the three months through December 2014 from 439,800 in the same period of 2013.

NSI figures for the last three months of 2014 showed that unemployment had declined  both among women and men. The unemployment rate among men went down by 2.4 percentage points to 11.4% on an annual basis, while rate among women decreased by 2.5 percentage points to 9.7%.

In the October-December period, the unemployment rate among young people aged 15-29 dropped to 17.6% from 22.2% in the fourth quarter of the previous year.

The number of people in work in the fourth quarter of 2014 was about 3m, the statistics office said.

At the same time, according to the latest NSI’s figures, Bulgaria’s economy slowed in the fourth quarter of last year. Gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 1.2% year-on-year in the three months ended December, down from 1.5% in the previous quarter. Annual deflation rate in January stood at 1.00%. In 2014, Bulgaria registered the highest annual deflation in the EU, with the rate dropping to -1.6% in September.

European Commission’s winter forecast, released on February 5, projected a drop in Bulgaria’s GDP from 1.4% in 2014 to 0.8% in 2015, held back by weak domestic demand. Inflation is expected to turn positive at the end of the year and labour market is anticipated to slightly improve.

by Petya Barzilska