January 1, 2010｜Russia
Research Associate, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University Lecturer (part-time), Ferris University, Saitama Gakuen University
Suffering the economic slowdown via the global financial crisis, there were frequent occurrences in Japan of “haken-giri [laying-off of temp-agency staff]”, and at the year-end and start of the year of 2008–2009 the “Toshikoshi Haken-mura [The Temp Village over New Year]” was set up, and the picture of it overflowing with large numbers of unemployed people is probably fresh in the memory of the reader. Viewed generationally, for the generation that spans people who are currently in their mid-20s to mid-30s, amid a background of being faced with an “employment ice age” when they reached working age, the percentage compelled into unstable employment compared to other generations is considered to be high. This generation has also been called the “lost generation,” and the problems that this lost generation has have finally come to be acknowledged.
The deepening of the problem of the unemployment of the young is not limited to Japan, however. In Russia too, accompanying the economic slowdown, the unemployment rate of the young has remained high.
Looking at the unemployment-rate trends in Russia from the data (ILO format) published by the Federal State Statistics Service, as of November 2009 unemployment stood at 8.1%. Although this had fallen from the 9.4% of February, it had grown higher than the 7.6% of September and the 7.7% of October.
Looking at the data related to the unemployment rate as of November by age, the average for the under-25s was 26.7%, approximately 3.5 times the average for all ages. Looking at the breakdown, for those aged 15–19 the rate in urban areas was 26.3% and in rural areas 30.5%; for those aged 20–24 the rate in urban areas was 16.2% and in rural areas 18.7%.
For those aged 25–29 the rate in urban areas was 7.3% and in rural areas 11.8%, and compared to the 15–24 age-bracket the unemployment rate is somewhat low. It becomes lower still for those aged 30–39, with a rate in urban areas of 6.3% and in rural areas of 9.1%, and for those aged 40–49, with a rate in urban areas of 6.0% and in rural areas of 8.1%.
What can be said subsequently is that at the current point in time the generation aged 15–24 is beset by quite a high unemployment rate, and the probability is high of them becoming a “Russian version of the lost generation.”
The thing which stands out in the unemployment-rate trends, however, is not just the disparities between generations. The disparities between areas also stand out. For example, in contrast to the average unemployment rate in urban areas of 7.4%, the average for rural areas is 10.4%, larger by no less than 3 percentage points. In particular, the average unemployment rate in rural areas for the 15–19 age-bracket has climbed to 30.5%, and it can be seen that many young people residing in rural areas are unemployed.
Moreover, looking at the data by federal district (the average values for October–November), the Central Federal District, which contains the capital of Moscow, is at 5.0%, and for Moscow in particular, at 1.8%, quite a low figure is shown. Similarly, for the Northwestern Federal District, which contains Saint Petersburg, it is 6.6%, and for Saint Petersburg it is 3.9%. Regarding others too—at 8.2% in the Volga Federal District and 8.5% in the Urals Federal District—the unemployment rate is relatively low for European Russia, excepting a certain federal district.
That certain federal district is the Southern Federal District, which contains the Caucasus, including Chechnya. The unemployment rate for the Southern Federal District is 11.3%, and within the breakdown by federal district is unique in recording a double-digit unemployment rate. Furthermore, with the Siberian Federal District at 9.5% and the Far Eastern Federal District at 9.6%, the eastern areas also have high unemployment rates.
As has been seen in the above, for unemployment rates in Russia the disparities between generations and between regions stand out. And because those disparities could become a cause of societal unrest, it can be said that the policies from the Russian government will be in the spotlight in the future.