Statistics show the gap between female and male unemployment rates in Bulgaria to have widened in favour of women since the crisis began in late 2008.
By Svetla Dimitrova for Southeast European Times in Sofia -- 06/08/12
A textile worker sews closes in a factor in the Albanian town of Korce. Recent statistics show that the unemployment rate of men exceeds women in several countries in southeast Europe. [Reuters]
In June, the share of unemployed men in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania and eight other EU member states exceeded that of women, according to the latest seasonally adjusted data released by the Union's statistics office, Eurostat, on July 31st.
The female unemployment rate of 6.4% in Romania was the fourth lowest within the 27-nation bloc, after those in Austria, at 4.2%, and Germany and the Netherlands, at 5.1% in each.
In Bulgaria, the percentage of jobless women has been lower than that of men for the last seven out of ten years. According to the Eurostat news release, the seasonally adjusted female and male unemployment rates in the Balkan nation stood at 10.7% and 13.9%, respectively. That 3.2% gender gap in favour of women was the third largest in the EU, after those in Ireland (6.5%) and Lithuania (3.4%).
Furthermore, statistics also show that gap to have kept widening in Bulgaria since the crisis began in late 2008.
"The reason for this is that the crisis hit worst some male-dominated sectors, like the construction industry and certain production spheres," Dora Naydenova, principal expert at the Labour Market division of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria, told SETimes. "Meanwhile, the tourism industry, and the services and public sectors, in which the majority of employees are women, were unaffected by the turmoil."
According to Bulgaria's National Statistical Institute, there were more than 252,000 jobless men aged over 15 in the country in the first quarter of this year, while the number of women in the same age group stood at 169,000.
Nearly 351,000 of all Bulgarians out of work had previous employment experience. The vast majority said they lost their last job because the position was closed, or as it had been seasonal or temporary work. Few men, and even fewer women, indicated that they were out of work because they were dissatisfied with the working conditions.
The jobless rate for six countries in the region since 2009. [SETimes/Eurostat]
According to Reny Petrova, the owner of a Sofia-based staff recruitment agency, men ages 45-55 were worst affected by the crisis, especially those without any computer skills.
"Bulgarian women are more responsible and flexible [than men], and they are more likely to make compromises in the name of their own or their family's well-being," she told SETimes.
In neighbouring Romania, jobless men accounted for 8.6% of the country's labour force in June.
Cyprus, which became the fifth eurozone country to seek international financial support earlier this summer, was listed by Eurostat among the 19 EU nations in which the unemployment rate went up over the past 12 months.
"The highest increases were registered in Greece (16.2% to 22.5%), Spain (21.2% to 24.8%) and Cyprus (7.6% to 10.5%)," the EU statistics office said.
The figures for Greece reflected the changes between April 2011 and April 2012, while those for the other two Southern European countries were based on data for the 12-month period ending in June this year.
In Cyprus, the female unemployment rate reached 9.8%, while that for men rose more sharply to stand at 11.1%. The gender gap in favour of women thus widened from 0.4% in June 2011 to 1.2% this year.
The situation in Greece was just the opposite. The rate of female unemployment in the country, standing at 26% in April, was 6% higher than that for men and was also the highest within the EU.
According to Eurostat's annual unemployment figures for 2011, the percentage of jobless women in EU candidate Turkey stood at 10.1%, while that of men was 8.8%. In Croatia, which is scheduled to become the 28th member of the Union in July 2013, there was a just 0.6% gap between the rates of unemployed men (13.8%) and women (13.2%).