About a quarter of the Bulgarians live below the poverty line, it is clear from new data from the National Statistical Institute. There are 23.4 percent of the Bulgarian population or 1.665 million Bulgarians behind this statistic.

For a fifth consecutive year, the poor people in the country are increasing, the Institute alarms. The same applies to the gap between the poor and the 20 percent of the richest.

This year, the poor increased by 26,000 people which equals by 0.5 percent. Pensions and social benefits are holding many people over the line – if the benefits’ impact is removed from statistics, it will be 44.8 per cent of the population or almost every second.

The highest relative share of the poor is in the District of Kardzhali (29.1%), Sliven (28.2%) and Shumen (25.8%) and with the smallest share of poor people are Blagoevgrad (13.5%), Pleven (14.8%) and Razgrad (15.75).

Although the Constitution is an irrevocable right of every citizen, in practice the biggest contributor to the poverty is precisely the lack of employment – more than half of the unemployed in the country are living with less than BGN 351. The worse, however, is that work alone is not a guarantee that one is not in the trap of poverty – 10% of workers are poor, although their share decreases from 11.6% in 2016. The other obvious factor for social deprivation among workers is education – over 65% of primary and non-education workers are below the poverty line, while studying in university poor are 1.8%.

One third of the population lives in material deprivation – it limits itself to four of nine main indicators. Most often the difficulties are in meeting unexpected costs (urgent repair, replacement of household appliances, sudden illness), where 53% do not have the opportunity to cover these cost with their own resources. 52.6% cannot afford one-week holiday, 36.4% are saving from not heating their houses, 33% have had difficulties in paying loans, rent and bills in time and 31% cannot afford meat two days in a row.

The figures also show that the differences in average wages in the individual areas are very large – BGN 1523 in Sofia, BGN 701 in Vidin, BGN 740 in Blagoevgrad, BGN 781 in Kyustendil. According to data, the average wage in the highest paid activity – information technology – is more than 5 times higher than in the lowest paid sector – restaurant and cafe services. In particular, an IT specialist took about 3150 BGN on average while a tourism workers received 580 BGN, according to the figures announced.

On the other side of the economic scale, we have, for one year, new 61 millionaires.