Bulgarian Employment Confederation: A Tight and Uncertain Labour Market Expected

According to the results of the latest Bulgarian Employment Confederation (BEC) forecast survey of the labor market which covers the April – September 2023 period employers in the country share the most modest hiring plans since the beginning of the survey in 2021. Twenty-seven percent of all the 1099 companies surveyed expect to increase payrolls — a decline by 16% compared to the previous six months and by 19% in comparison with the same period last year. Thirty-six percent of employers anticipate no change, 19% forecast a decrease — 5% more compared to the previous survey period, and 18% are unsure of their hiring plans, their share being zero in the previous six months. Thus the net employment rate, or the difference between the employers who plan to reduce staff levels and those who forecast to increase them, stands at +8% which is a drop of 21 percentage points compared to the previous survey and 32 percentage points less compared to the same period last year.

‘The labor market in Bulgaria has long been subject to the imbalance between the demand and supply for talent. Our economy greatly relies on foreign investments, and they registered a steady drop in the past several years due to the lack of on-demand staff, too. In this environment, it is imperative that labor processes get digitized, those who wish to join the market re-skill as per employers’ needs, passive groups of desperate people who do not look for a job get attracted and targeted import of people from abroad takes place. These are the only processes we need to immediately set in motion together with changes of the labor legislation in order to be adequate to the new reality and prevent a labor market collapse,’ said Nadia Vassileva, BEC chairperson.

Sofia employers share once again the most optimistic hiring plans for the April – September 2023 period with an employment rate of +72% which is an increase of two percentage points compared to the previous six months. Companies from the regions of Plovdiv and Bourgas forecast modest team expansions with, respectively, +9% and +8% of employers planning to hire employees. The employment rates in Rousse and Varna register a drop of two percentage points and stand at +3% and +8% respectively for the next six months.

‘The lack of a stable government, the galloping inflation and the rising labor costs make corporate growth concerning. The record low unemployment and the shortage of suitable candidates force employers to look for people abroad and to use resources that have not been part of their plans until now,’ added Nadia Vassileva.

Regarding the twelve industry sectors included in BEC survey the forecasts of Hotels&Restaurants and Construction sectors register the biggest increase of five percentage points compared to the previous six months with respectively +10% and +9% of employers planning to hire staff. The forecast of the Public&Social sector employers is up by two percentage points with an employment rate of +7%. Information Technologies and Outsourcing employers who had the most optimistic hiring plans in the previous survey period share more modest forecasts for the April – September 2023 period and employment rates of +25% and +9%, respectively. The employment rates of the Retail Trade, Transport, Storage&Communication and Agriculture, Forestry&Fishing sectors stand at +9%, +7% and +3% respectively — a decrease of one percentage point compared to the previous six months. The hiring pace in the Electricity, Gas& Water sector is expected to be the same (+4%), the employment rate in the Manufacturing and Finance&Insurance, Real Estate and Business Services sectors increase by one percentage point and reach +11% and +7% respectively, and the Mining sector is the only one with a negative employment rate for the April – September 2023 period.

About the Bulgarian Employment Confederation

The Bulgarian Employment Confederation is a non-profit organization that brings together the expertise of the leading HR services companies in Bulgaria, combines creativity, innovativeness, modern digital solutions, adaptability and knowledge of the latest global trends in the human resources field. The confederation’s key objective is to form a sustainable partnership with all industry companies in order to build a healthier work environment in Bulgaria. We are not afraid to ask questions and pinpoint the problems of the job market and the labor legislation. This is how we strive to solve them and help the adequate functioning of the labor market: www.bec-bg.com.

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