For decades it has been widely believed that Hungarians in Romania are more prosperous than the rest of the country. This no longer seems to be the case.
Hungarians in Romania live predominantly in Transylvania, although there is a considerably non-historical minority in Bucharest, who have moved there predominantly because of administrative occupations in the capital.
Hungarians form a large majority of the population in the counties of Harghita (84.6%) and Covasna (73.79%), and a large percentage in Mures (39.3%), Satu Mare (35.22%), Bihor (25.91%), Salaj (23.07%), Cluj (17.4%) and Arad (10.70%) counties.
Within Transylvania, Hungarians cluster around the Hungarian border region, as well as deep within Transylvania, in a non-official area generally referred to as Szeklerland.
The 1998 Green Paper on regional development in Romania placed counties on a six scale index according to their global level of development (1-worst, 6-best). In Szeklerland, Covasna and Harghita were level 4, Mures was level 5. In the border region Satu Mare was 4, Bihor was 5. In the two counties with a relatively smaller number of Hungarians Cluj was 6, top, but Salaj was only 3, below average.
The GDP/per head of Romania was 344650,6/ 21537563= 0.01601 million lei at 2008 prices in 2006. For the Szeklerland it was Covasna 2779,7/223364=0.01244, Harghita 4464,5/325611=0.0137, and Mures 8174,1/581759=0.0141. Thus this whole region is well below the national average. As for the other partially Hungarian counties Bihor 9475,4/594232=0.0159, Cluj 13558,6/692316=0.0196, Satu Mare 4699,7/366270=0.0129, and Salaj 3054,0/243257=0-01255. Thus with the exception of county Cluj, all other counties are well below the national average. (Own calculations based on Romanian Statistical Office.)
In 2007, unemployment in all of Romania was 4% (Romanian Statistical Office). The same indicator in the Szeklerland was 7% in Covasna, 5.1% in Harghita, 4.3% in Mures. Altogether this is worse than the national average. In the other counties: Bihor 2.4%, Satu Mare 2.6%, Salaj 4.4%, Cluj 3%, altogether better than the national average.
The dependency ratio (employed person per total population) for all of Romania is 4885319/21537563=23%. For the Szeklerland it was Covasna 49788/223364=22%, Harghita 64401/325611=20%, and Mures 127953/581759=22%. Thus this region is only slightly below average. As for the other partially Hungarian counties Bihor 163325/594232=27%, Cluj 194239/692316=28%, Satu Mare 75246/366270=21, and Salaj 46343/243257=19%. Thus this shows a mixed picture. The figures for Bihor and Cluj are most likely inflated by the cities of Oradea and Cluj, where Hungarians make up 28% and 19% respectively. Thus Hungarians are slightly overrepresented in these cities! (Own calculations based on Romanian Statistical Office)
As for income, the whole of Romanian averaged 1396 lei gross and 1042 lei net per month in 2007. Average monthly income in the Szeklerland was 1036/792 in Covasna, 1081/814 in Harghita, and 1265/950 in Mures, all significantly lower. On the other counties it was 1086/811 in Bihor, 1489/1113 in Cluj, 1171/896 in Satu Mare and 1208/920 in Salaj. Thus in this non-core region only CLuj had higher than average earnings, where the percentage of Hungarians is the lowest.
In summary it can therefore be stated that the core regions of the Hungarian ethnic group in Romania, the Szeklerland, is well below Romanian average. So are the other areas where Hungarians form a considerable minority, with the single exception of Cluj county, whose figures are largely determined by the high significance of the city of Cluj in the Romanian economy.