Saturday, July 27, 2019

Russians Finally Finding Out Just How Poorly Paid They Are, Shelin Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 24 – Russians have long been accustomed to hearing that the average wage in Russia is 47,700 rubles (800 US dollars) a month, Sergey Shelin says; but now they are learning that the median wage – the one where half receive more and half less – is only 34,300 rubles (560 US dollars), a far lower figure.

            And that shift to more accurate figures is only beginning, the Rosbalt commentator says. This week, several experts have pointed out that the “modal” wage, that is the one most typical for Russians, is even lower, 23,500 rubles (380 US dollars), less than half of what Russians had been accustomed to assuming (

            Moreover, with income taxes taken out, these three figures are lower still: 41,500 rubles (660 US dollars) for the “average,” 30,000 (480 US dollars) for the “median,” and 20,400 (330 US dollars) for the “modal,” figures so much lower than Russians had thought that the revelation is certain to have an impact on their attitudes.

            The source of these figures, Shelin says, is not some opposition outlet but the government’s own statistical agency, Rosstat, in the report it issues every other year on incomes in Russia every two years. The latest of these compilations has just been released (

            This report provides a correction to the much-ballyhooed numbers about average wages that are released every month and that pro-Kremlin media like to talk about.  And it provides other important data as well on income inequality in a country where “two-thirds of workers get less than ‘average pay.’”           

            And what is still worse, Shelin continues, is that median pay in Russia as a share of average pay is falling, an indication that income inequality is continuing to rise in the sixth year of economic stagnation, something that Russians are now being told by their own government and about which at least some of them are going to react.

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