Staunton, December 6 – Even as decline makes immigrant workers even more important for the future of the Russian economy and some in Moscow are even talking about a ministry of immigration to promote it ( ), almost 40 percent of Russian Federation residents believes immigrants are taking away jobs from Russians.
According to recent surveys by the Public Opinion Foundation, 39 percent of Russian residents believe that migrants are taking jobs that should be held by the indigenous population. That attitude is higher in large cities (45 percent) and Moscow (54 percent) where there are more immigrants and lower in rural areas (34 percent) where there are fewer (fom.ru/Nastroeniya/14114).
Such attitudes may be intensifying, the surveys suggest, because immigrant workers are more visible and because there are reports that as their incomes are rising, they are sending more of their wages home, with the amount of such transfers projected to rise for Uzbekistan alone from 4.8 billion US dollars now to 7.2 billion in 2021.
But a more likely explanation, journalist Kirill Sokov points out on the Rhythm of Eurasia portal, is that jobs have become more scarce for Russians as a result of domestic economic difficulties, Russians are more focused on those from abroad who are employed in Russia ().
Russia is far from the only country in which such attitudes are widespread, but its demographic decline puts the government in a difficult position: if it doesn’t take in more immigrants from Central Asia and the Caucasus, the Russian economy will fall still further; but if it does, Russians will be angrier about the influx.