Plovdiv is becoming a real Bulgarian economic tiger.
The economy of the region is growing twice as fast as the country’s economy. This is clear from the annual survey of the Institute of Market Economics “Regional Profiles”, which works with statistics from 2017 and the first half of 2018.
In some areas of Bulgaria, a booming local economy and catching-up wage and income growth have been registered. “Such a regional economic tiger in the last edition is the Plovdiv region, which marks a 10% growth in GDP per capita and a 9% wage growth in 2016. In 2017 wages increased by another 16%, which indicates that the year was very strong for the local economy,” experts said.
One of engines of the industrial and economic change in Plovdiv is the Trakia Economic Zone, as the area boasts successful enterprises in the manufacturing, electrical, construction, transport and logistics sectors as well as in the outsourcing and IT sector.
Other areas with a relatively high GDP growth per capita in 2016 are the strong economic centers of Bourgas and Stara Zagora, as well as the smaller but fast-growing economies of Pernik, Lovech, Targovishte, Razgrad and Gabrovo.
There is a growth of well-being all over the country
Overall, in 2016-2017, all areas of the country mark a rise in well-being and living standards as measured by GDP per capita, wages and household incomes.
“While in the previous years of economic recovery after the recession of 2009, the positive processes covered only a few areas, in the last two years an economic boost has spread across the country,” analysts from the Institute for Market Economics said.
There is also a boom in employment. About 70% of the population aged 15-64 on average is currently employed, and in the strongest economic centers – Sofia, Plovdiv and Stara Zagora even already exceeds 70%. Unemployment as a whole is low, but there are still areas where the coefficient remains two-digit – Vidin, Vratsa, Pleven, Silistra, Targovishte, Shumen, Sliven and Smolyan.
Targovishte among the foreign investment leaders
The regions with a growth of direct foreign investment per capita in 2016 are among the strongest economic centers – Sofia and the large Sofia region, Plovdiv, Burgas, Gabrovo, Rousse, as well as the less developed Targovishte, where the investments lead to a fast growth in employment.
Only the capital has very good social development, according to the IME rating. Relatively good in this respect are also Varna, Veliko Tarnovo, Gabrovo, Smolyan and Plovdiv.
In 2017, only six districts in the country attracted more people than they lost – those being the capital, Plovdiv, Burgas, Varna, Pernik and Kardzhali.
Educational indicators continue to improve, although rates are extremely slow. Overall, there is an increase in children enrolled at school, as well as a reduction, albeit symbolic, of dropouts.
Smolyan continues to be a leader because of the high scores of local pupils in the state exams and the retention of pupils and teachers in the education system.
Sofia, Gabrovo, Veliko Tarnovo, Varna and Blagoevgrad are among the regions with relatively good performance in this category as well, while Sliven, Pazardjik, Yambol and Dobrich are at the bottom of the ranking.