Thursday, July 14, 2016

How Bad is the Russian Economy? Russians are Now Taking Jobs Gastarbeiters have Left

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 14 – There are many ways to measure the economic situation in the Russian Federation but most of them are problematic in one way or another, the result either of difficulties with the data or their proper interpretation given Russian conditions.  But now there is one about which there can be little dispute.

            That concerns a new trend: According to the Moscow Academy of Labor and Social Relations, “Rossiiskaya gazeta” reports, “the exodus of [Central Asian and Caucasus] migrants from Russia as the result of the decline of the ruble has freed up jobs which Russians have begun to occupy,” even though they were unwilling to take such low-skill positions earlier (

            In the last year in the city of Moscow, the academy found, the share of gastarbeiters in wholesale and retail trade in Russia has declined by 54 percent, but the number of people employed in that sector has gone up, mostly consisting of Russian citizens.  A similar pattern holds in other sectors as well, the Moscow experts say.

            In finance, the number of migrants has declined by 96 percent, while employment there has increased 15 percent. In education, the number of migrants has fallen by 96 percent but overall employment there has declined only by six percent. And in healthcare, the number of migrants has fallen by 13 percent, while total jobs have fallen only two percent.

            The academy’s director Aleksandr Safonov says that this indicates how effective the authorities have been with their policy of putting Russian citizens in jobs that had been held by foreigners in the past, a policy that he said had been promoted by reductions in the quotas for immigrant workers.

            But not everything is working as the authorities hope. In construction, the number of gastarbeiters has gone up by 167 percent, in hotels and restaurants by 120 percent and in communal and personal services by 40 percent, numbers that suggest some gastarbeiters aren’t going home but rather changing jobs.

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