According to data from the State Statistical Office, at the beginning of 2017, the labor force in the Republic of Macedonia numbered 952 644 persons, of which 734 043 or 77.05% were employed, while 218 601 or 22.95% were unemployed.
The unemployment rate remains high, although the overall trend over recent years has been steadily downward. Reducing unemployment levels in various sectors and geographic locations remains one of the country’s economic challenges.
While the Macedonian labor force is generally highly skilled and well educated, wages in the country are significantly lower than those in Western Europe, creating significant upside potential for labor-intensive investments.
The average monthly gross wage paid per employee in April 2017 was 33 296 MKD (approximately 541.4 EUR), while the average monthly net wage paid per employee in April 2017 was 22 672 MKD (approximately 368.65 EUR).
Every year approximately 80% of high school graduates are enrolled in universities, and there was a 35% increase in the total number of undergraduate degrees in the past several years. With 45% of the population under 30 years of age, Macedonia offers a young, educated, and skilled workforce.
Macedonian Authorities in the past few years significantly reduced social security contributions. Further reductions are planned and their implementation depending on the general economic conditions in the country.
The recently enacted new Labor Law, prepared in accordance with the EU standards, provides increased flexibility of the labor market by offering and promoting flexible and different employment contracts and flexibility of working time. Also, reforms in this sphere have introduced training programs, support for entrepreneurs, as well as improvement of the overall business climate.
Collective agreements, concluded on the country level, regulate employment rights, and obligations and responsibilities of the employees and employers. The leading trade union organization of the employees concludes a general collective agreement.
The Law on Establishment of Employment Relations with Foreign Persons regulates the employment of foreign persons in Macedonia. According to the provisions of the Law, foreign persons, or persons without nationality, can be employed in Macedonia upon obtaining a work permit. The Employment Agency of the Republic of Macedonia issues the work permit upon an employer’s request.