Seventy-one per cent of Bulgarians polled by the Alpha Research agency approved of the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, the agency said on May 3.
A total of 27.5 per cent expressed full support, 43.3 per cent largely supported the measures, while 21 per cent disapproved – of that figure, 8.3 per cent strongly and 12.6 per cent largely so, Alpha Research said.
The polling agency carried out the survey between April 13 and 23 among a sample of 1000 adult Bulgarian citizens via telephone interviews. The sample was stratified by location, age, gender and level of education.
Of those polled, 25 per cent said that their incomes had dropped drastically since the beginning of the crisis, 26 per cent said that their incomes had decreased but without seriously endangering their households, while 45 per cent said that their incomes were unchanged.
Alpha Research said that three major socio-economic groups stood out as having the most significant loss of income during the crisis.
These were the unemployed – six per cent had lost their jobs since the beginning of the crisis, while seven per cent had before – the self-employed (seven per cent) and freelance professions (seven per cent).
“Taken together, they form the one-quarter of the Bulgarian population that has experienced the most significant drop in income,” the agency said.
Forty-eight per cent of those polled were continuing to work full time at their work place. Ten per cent were alternating working at home and at the office, while eight per cent went over fully to working from home.
“As a percentage, these shares are not high, but in absolute terms they are about half a million workers, who are gradually moving to outsourced jobs. This process, with all its pros and cons, may have an impact on the restructuring of normal activities in the coming years.”
About two-thirds’ full employment was continuing unchanged or with some modification. They were the group that had the most stable economic status in the current crisis.
However, facing risk were those who had undergone significant changes, such as reduction of working hours or being sent on leave. “If the situation deepens, employers are likely to be forced to release some of them,” Alpha Research said.
Ten per cent said that they were now on part-time work, three per cent had reduced working hours but from home, while close to 20 per cent of employees had not yet been formally released but were on paid or unpaid leave.
Of those who had lost their jobs because of the crisis, 56 per cent said that this was because their employer had stopped operating, 31.8 per cent said that even though the firm continued to operate, it had no business, and 12.1 per cent said that they had been working abroad but had been left jobless and had to come back to Bulgaria.
Analysis of the survey results showed an unemployment figure of about 6.6 per cent, Alpha Research said.
This figure was higher than that officially announced by Bulgaria’s Employment Agency, because it inclued not only those registered with labour bureaux but also those not registered, who would remain outside the scope of official unemployment rate data.
Asked if they had registered as unemployed with the Labour Bureau, 37.9 per cent said yes, 21.2 per cent said that they had not yet but would, 16.7 per cent said that they were entitled to register as unemployed but did not intend doing so, while 24.2 per cent said that they were not entitled to register as unemployed because they had been working without an employment contract or paying unemployment insurance.
Response to the social support measures announced by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy was largely positive.
There was 73.3 per cent support for the 1000 leva monthly bonus for those in the front line against Covid-19, 72 per cent for the ministry’s measure providing food parcels to those most in need, and 69 per cent support for the “hot lunch” programme.
“It should be noted that approval for the short-term social measures is against the backdrop of dominant pessimism about people maintaining their jobs and incomes in the coming months,” Alpha Research said.
“In this sense, the rapid response so far, the protection of the most vulnerable groups and the broader range of emergency measures that have been developed are positively assessed.”
However, given their concerns about the economic crisis, in the long term they want to see a faster overall economic recovery of the country. This, in turn, is closely linked to the resources, capacity and incentives for the private sector in the coming months, the agency said.
(Photo: Military Medical Academy)
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