Labour costs in Bulgaria were the lowest among the 28 member states of the European Union, according to a survey by EU statistics agency Eurostat, giving figures for 2012.
The survey also found that among EU member states that were not in the euro zone, Bulgaria saw the highest increase in labour costs between 2008 and 2012, a gain of 33.7 per cent.
But that increase hardly appears dramatic, considering that labour costs across the Bulgarian economy in 2012 came in at a mere 3.4 euro an hour – well below the 24.2 euro average hour labour costs across the EU, and also vastly below the 29.3 euro an hour in the euro zone.
Predictably, in all sectors, Bulgaria was significantly less than the EU average in labour costs.
According to Eurostat, in 2012 labour costs in Bulgaria, per sector, were: manufacturing 2.8 euro an hour, construction three euro an hour, wholesale and retail 3.1 euro an hour, accommodation and food services 2.2 euro an hour, financial and insurance 6.3 euro an hour, professional, scientific and technical 5.5 euro an hour, education 3.5 euro an hour and human health and social work 3.5 euro an hour.
Eurostat said that in 2012, average hourly labour costs in Denmark were the highest in the EU, at 40.1 euro – close to 12 times those in Bulgaria.
Compared with 2008, hourly labour costs in euro in 2012 had increased by 10.9 per cent in the EU28 (or +2.6 per cent annually) and by 11.8 per cent in the euro area (or +2.8 per cent annually).
In both the EU28 and the euro zone, hourly labour costs in 2012 were lowest in the “accommodation and food service activities” sector (14.4 euro in the EU28 and 16.9euro in the euro zone) and highest in the “financial and insurance activities” sector (41.2 euro in the EU28, 48.5 euro in the euro area).
In 2012, the highest average hourly labour costs in the whole economy were recorded in Denmark (40.1 euro), Belgium (38 euro), Sweden (37.3 euro), France (34.6 euro) and Luxembourg (34.1 euro), and the lowest in Bulgaria (3.4 euro), Romania (4.1 euro), Lithuania (5.9 euro) and Latvia (six euro).
Compared with 2008, hourly labour costs, expressed in national currencies, in the whole economy have increased in all EU member states, except Lithuania where they remained stable.
Within the euro zone, the largest increases were recorded in Slovakia (+21.4 per cent), Finland (+15.8 per cent), Belgium (+15.7 per cent), Austria (+12.6 per cent) and the Netherlands (+10.3 per cent), and the smallest in Cyprus (+0.4 per cent) and Latvia (+0.5 per cent) where they remained almost stable.
For EU member states 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 (+33.7 per cent), Poland (+22.5 per cent) and Romania (+19.3 per cent), and the smallest in Lithuania (+0.0 per cent) and the United Kingdom (+5.4 per cent).
Labour costs are made up of wages and salaries (which represented 76 per cent of total labour costs in 2012) and nonwage costs (24 per cent) such as employers’ social contributions.
The contribution of wages and salaries to the growth of labour costs was +8.2 percentage points in the EU28 and by +9.1 pp in the euro zone.
The wage component made the largest contribution to changes in the hourly labour costs expressed in national currencies in nearly every EU country.
The highest contributions of wages in the growth of hourly labour costs over the period 2008-2012 were recorded in Bulgaria (+31.1 percentage points – pp) and Poland (+17.7 pp), while the lowest contributions were recorded in Lithuania (-0.1 pp), Cyprus (-0.6 pp) and Latvia (+0.7 pp).
The contribution of the non-wage component, meaning mainly social contributions paid by the employer, was +2.7 percentage points for both the EU28 and the euro zone. It ranged from -2.7 pp in Hungary, -1.0 pp in Malta and -0.2 pp in Latvia, to +4.8 pp in Poland, +4.9 pp in Belgium and +5.7 pp in Slovakia.
In 2012, full-time employees worked on average 1750 hours a year in the EU28 and 1661 hours in the euro zone.
Among EU countries for which data are available, the average number of annual hours worked
ranged from less than 1600 hours in Belgium (1462), France (1555), Italy (1565) and Denmark (1571), to more than 1800 hours in Romania (1850) and Malta (1961).
Compared with 2008, the average number of hours worked a year dropped slightly in both the EU28 (-15 hours) and in the euro zone (-32 hours).
Among EU member states, the average number of actual annual hours worked decreased the most in Ireland (-90 hours) and Belgium (-79h), while increases were observed in Malta (+100 hours), Cyprus (+83h), Estonia (+27h), Lithuania (+15h), the Czech Republic (+14h), the Netherlands (+10h) and Sweden (+8h).
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