Unemployment among youth, meaning under-25s, hit 28.3 per cent in Bulgaria in January 2013, higher than the European Union average of 23.6 per cent.
This is according to figures released on March 1 by EU statistics office Eurostat, which showed that in January 2013, unemployment in Bulgaria was 12.4 per cent.
Unemployment in Bulgaria was 12.3 per cent in December 2012 and 11.9 per cent in January 2012.
The figures come as Bulgaria is seized by a national political and social crisis, initially over high electricity bills, and which then prompted the government to resign as protests spread, saw violent incidents, and became a vehicle for deep resentment of the cost of living outstripping income while Bulgaria continues to wrestle with corruption and organised crime.
The country faces months of uncertainty as the process unfolds of the appointment of a caretaker government, the holding of early parliamentary elections on May 12 2013 and then, depending on the outcome, the process of negotiating a governing coalition.
The EU as a whole, and the euro zone, to which Bulgaria’s economic performance is naturally intimately bound, also showed slightly worsened joblessness in January 2013, going by Eurostat’s figures.
The 17-member euro zone, of which Bulgaria is not a member, saw seasonally-adjusted unemployment of 11.9 per cent in January 2013, up from 11.8 per cent in December 2012.
Across the 27-member EU, unemployment in January 2013 was 10.8 per cent, up from 10.7 per cent in December 2012.
In both zones, the EU as a whole and the euro zone, unemployment has risen markedly compared with January 2012, when it was 10.8 per cent and 10.1 per cent, respectively.
Eurostat estimates that 26.217 million men and women in the EU27, of whom 18.998 million were in the euro area, were unemployed in January 2013.
Compared with December 2012, the number of unemployed increased by 222 000 in the EU27 and by 201 000 in the euro area. Compared with January 2012, unemployment rose by 1.890 million in the EU27 and by 1.909 million in the euro area.
Among EU member states, unemployment was lowest in Austria (4.9 per cent), Germany and Luxembourg (both 5.3 per cent) and the Netherlands (6.0 per cent), and the highest in Greece (27 per cent in November 2012), Spain (26.2 per cent) and Portugal (17.6 per cent).
Compared with a year ago, unemployment increased in 19 member states, fell in seven and remained stable in Denmark. The largest decreases were in Estonia (11.1 per cent to 9.9 per cent between December 2011 and December 2012), Latvia (15.5 per cent to 14.4 per cent between the fourth quarters of 2011 and 2012), Romania (7.4 per cent to 6.6 per cent) and the United Kingdom (8.3 per cent to 7.7 per cent between November 2011 and November 2012).
The highest increases were in Greece (20.8 per cent to 27 per cent between November 2011 and November 2012), Cyprus (9.9 per cent to 14.7 per cent), Portugal(14.7 per cent to 17.6 per cent) and Spain (23.6 per cent to 26.2 per cent).
Between January 2012 and January 2013, unemployment among men increased from 10.6 per cent to 11.8 per cent in the euro zone and from 10 per cent to 10.8 per cent in the EU27. Among women, unemployment rose from 11 per cent to 12.1 per cent in the euro zone and from 10.2 per cent to 10.9 per cent in the EU27.
In January 2013, 5.732 million young people (under 25) were unemployed in the EU27, of whom 3.642 million were in the euro area.
Compared with January 2012, youth unemployment rose by 264 000 in the EU27 and by 295 000 in the euro area. In January 2013, youth unemployment was 23.6 per cent in the EU27 and 24.2 per cent in the euro area, compared with 22.4 per cent and 21.9 per cent respectively in January 2012.
In January 2013, youth unemployment was lowest in Germany (7.9 per cent), Austria (9.9 per cent) and the Netherlands (10.3 per cent), and the highest in Greece (59.4 per cent in November 2012), Spain (55.5 per cent) and Italy (38.7 per cent).
(Photo, of protests in Sofia in February 2013: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)