Two industries have driven employment growth in Bulgaria since the country's economy started to recover from the 2008-2009 crisis - manufacturing and IT
Inside manufacturing itself a lot has been going on, with employment growing at a faster pace in some sectors, while in others - more dependent on cheap labor - it has been shrinking. However, middle-skilled workers who are highly convertible between manufacturing sectors have remained the main segment of labor demand. Thus, the general wage trends in manufacturing are valid for any of the industry's sectors.
Growing wages in manufacturing are driven by increased labor demand by multinational companies which expand their production activities in the country. Some have chosen to remain and expand in the same region, while others are building their second or even third production sites at locations different from their entry point. Average wages in manufacturing have been growing faster than the average for the economy, by some 6.7% per annum over a 5-year period. In some of the biggest regional labor markets that growth rate has been considerably higher (Plovdiv region - 7.9%, Sofia region - 7.4%). The gap between Sofia, where the wages are the highest, and other regions has begun to shrink and wages in Varna now are just 15.6% lower than those in Sofia.
In the next five years, some smaller regional markets might be worth exploring. For example, Gabrovo in northern of Bulgaria has a high concentration of more productive engineering and technical jobs, which is reflected in the relatively high salaries for the sector. In southern Bulgaria, Haskovo will be a potential candidate to attract new investments in projects that rely on a more accessible labor pool - wage growth might be accelerating but salaries there are still 20% lower than those in neighboring Plovdiv.