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Unemployment grows slower than expected

Date: 30.03.2009

Bulgaria's Labor Minister, Emiliya Maslarova, said Sunday the country's employment rate would be well below 7% at the end of March.

In her words, the global financial and economic crisis is already affecting pretty tangibly the Bulgarian labor market. Yet, the unemployment rate is growing much more slowly than most expected.

Maslarova announced that 322 employers in the manufacturing and services sectors had applied for additional government payments for a total of 18 086 workers.

One of the government's measures to fight the effects of the crisis provides for payments of BGN 120 (half of the minimum monthly wage) for three months to every worker, whose employer is forced to reduce their working hours by half, i.e. to four hours a week, because of the lack of orders for their produce or services.

The largest number of workers for whom the employers are seeking government payments are in the southwest city of Blagoevgrad - 2 945, in Stara Zagora - 2 600, and in Plovdiv - 980. The smallest number is in another southwest city - Kyustendil.

The final reports on how many employers applied for this government aid, which is supposed to prevent the mass sacking of workers over the failing number of export orders from abroad, will be clear on Tuesday, which is deadline for employers' state aid applications.

Minister Maslarova stated, however, that if necessary the government could extend the deadline for employers to apply for this aid until April 20.

Despite the growing unemployment, the number of job vacancies has also shown a slight growth - some 8 000 job spots remain open at the end of March, and 1 500 of these are in Sofia. However, these are primarily jobs seeking high-skilled and high-qualified specialists.

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