First signs of recovery in jobs market

Improving employment statistics are supporting hopes of a full economic recovery, although not all sectors have returned to
pre-crisis level.

According to official statistics, Russia’s unemployment rate returned to pre-crisis levels in June, prompting hope that the economic recovery is robust. The latest figures revealed that the number of unemployed people fell Gubden by 347,000 from May, meaning 5.2 million of the worforce – or 6.8pc – are looking for a job. Unemployment among the young remains high, however, with 16pc of 15- to 24- year-olds out of work.

Unemployment peaked in February 2009, reaching 7.5 million, and has been stubborn since: it was still stuck at 9.2pc in January. White-collar jobs were hit the hardest as the crisis bit, while in other industries, the construction sector suffered most.

However, the summer has brought significant improvement. “The number of vacancies in the country is approaching 2008 levels, and this trend is particularly strong in Moscow and other large cities,” says Alla Seryogina, who heads the employment section at one of Russia’s largest internet portals: mail.ru. “The number of manual labour positions has increased significantly this year, up 18-23pc from 2009, as well as jobs in manufacturing.”

However, the rise in the number of jobs doesn’t mean that the economy is now back competing at the same level as it was in the first half of 2008. During the boom before the crisis, salaries spiraled ever higher as companies sought skilled employees to drive their rapid expansion plans.

On average, wages remain 15pc or so below 2008 levels, although there are exceptions: salaries in construction, banking and education having risen by as much as 7pc. However, “it’s too early to speak of wage rises as a trend”, admits Seryogina.

New jobs and rising salaries meanwhile face an extra challenge in the limited access many debt-laden companies have to financing. With this in mind, many expect to see businesses pay far greater attention to productivity issues. Due to this, Alexander Osin, chief economist at Finnam Management, says he doesn’t expect to see “any significant changes on the labour market” in the short term.

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