Category: START regional profile, Location: Karlovy Vary, Czechia, Date: May, 2020
Karlovy Vary is the smallest region in the country and home to 295,285 people, divided into three districts, namely Cheb, Karlovy Vary and Sokolov. Next to its spa resorts, the region holds a significant amount of Czechia’s brown coal reserves– two of which are located in North Bohemia and near the town of Sokolov. In 2018, the region had the lowest average gross monthly wage of CZK 27,974 (ca. €1,000 in 2018), compared to a national average of CZK 31,868 (ca. €1,240 in 2018), with an overall low unemployment rate of 2.9% in 2018, somewhat higher than the 2.2% at national level. The unemployment rate in Karlovy Vary has fallen from 9% in 2013, following the general positive national trend. The three districts of Karlovy Vary have unemployment rates of 5% in the Sokolov District, 4.1% in Karlovy Vary and 3.7% in Cheb. However, these overall shares of unemployment have increased by April 2020 compared to the same period in 2018 and 2019, due to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. A significant increase in unemployment is expected in summer 2020, when notice periods will expire. The regional economy is heterogeneous, with a mix of economic sectors of low technology levels and low productivity. Traditionally, there has been a focus on mining and energy production, together with non-metallic mineral products (glass, porcelain, ceramics and building materials) and the textiles industry. Although still representing 16% of the regional economy in terms of employment, these industries have lost importance over the past 20 years mainly due to their high demands on energy, raw materials and human resources.