Bulgarian labour costs rising, but still lowest in the EU

Hourly labour costs in Bulgaria increased by close to 43 per cent between 2008 and 2012 – but that is not that astonishing a statistic, considering that in real terms that was a rise from 2.6 euro an hour to 3.7 euro an hour, still the lowest among the 27 member states of the European Union.

This emerges from figures released on April 10 2013 by EU statistics office Eurostat.

In 2012, the four lowest labour costs in the EU were all in states that acceded to the bloc either in 2004 or 2007: Bulgaria, at 3.7 euro an hour, its northern neighbour Romania at 4.4 euro an hour, and Baltic states Lithuania and Latvia at 5.8 and six euro an hour, respectively.

In 2012, average hourly labour costs in the whole economy (excluding agriculture and public administration) were estimated to be 23.4 euro in the EU27 and 28 euro in the euro zone. However, Eurostat said, this average masks significant differences among EU member states, with hourly labour costs ranging at their highest to 39 euro in Sweden, 38.1 euro in Denmark, 37.2 euro in Belgium, 34.6 euro in Luxembourg and 34.2 euro in France. When comparing labour cost estimates in euro over time, it should be noted that data for those member states outside the euro area are influenced by exchange rate movements, Eurostat said.

Within the business economy, labour costs an hour were highest in industry (24.2 euro in the EU27 and 30.3 euro in the euro area), followed by services (23.7 euro and 27.6 euro, respectively) and construction (21 and 24.3 euro). In the mainly non-business economy (excluding public administration), labour costs an hour were 22.9 euro in the EU27 and 27.2 euro in the euro area.

Labour costs are made up of wages and salaries and non-wage costs such as employers’ social contributions. The share of non-wage costs in the whole economy was 23.7 per cent in the EU27 and 26.1 per cent in the euro area, varying between 8.2 per cent in Malta and 33.6 per cent in France.

Eurostat’s preliminary estimates for 2012 cover enterprises with 10 or more employees and are based on the 2008 Labour Cost Survey and the Labour Cost Index.

Between 2008 and 2012, hourly labour costs in the whole economy expressed in euro have risen by 8.6 per cent in the EU27 and by 8.7 per cent in the euro area.

Within the euro area, the largest increases were recorded in Austria (+15.5 per cent), Slovakia (+13.8 per cent), Finland (+13.7 per cent) and Belgium (+13.1 per cent), and the smallest in Portugal (+0.4 per cent) and Ireland (+0.8 per cent). The only decrease was observed in Greece (-11.2 per cent).

For EU countries outside the euro zone, and expressed in national currency, the largest increases in hourly labour costs in the whole economy between 2008 and 2012 were registered in Bulgaria (+42.6 per cent) and Romania (+26.7 per cent), and the smallest in Latvia (+1.3 per cent) and the United Kingdom (+5.2 per cent). The only decrease was observed in Lithuania (-1.4 per cent).

(Photo: Darren Shaw/sxc.hu)



The Sofia Globe staff

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