In recent years, incomes and salaries in the district have been growing; still, living standards have stayed below the national average. Indicators for living conditions and social inclusion have followed the national trends; the poor constitute about 1/5 of the population, while those living in material deprivation are about 1/3. The labor market, however, is faced with a number of challenges: the district registered one of the lowest employment rates – the fourth highest unemployment rate in the country, and poor economic activity of the population. The labor market problems come as a consequence of the relatively limited influx of foreign and domestic investment. FTA acquisition expenditure is approaching its pre-crisis levels though still nearly twice lower than the national average. The municipalities in the district are among the best in EU fund utilization, yet, this has failed to compensate for insufficient private investment.

The population’s age structure remains relatively favorable. Natural growth rates are negative and further deteriorating. Net migration rates follow similar trends. These processes entail a rapid deterioration of the population’s age structure. The district is characterized by a high coverage of the educational system, but also considerable numbers of dropouts and poor performance of students at matriculation exams. Doctors remain insufficient in number and specialist qualification. The cultural life is poorly developed compared with the other regions in the country. 

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