The rigid linking of a foreign worker to his or her employer, which was abolished in for migrants from the visa-waiver countries of the CIS and then reintroduced in 2009 as an anti-crisis measure, effectively places migrant labor outside of the sphere of competition. Employers cannot freely select workers on the market because they are restricted by the quotas and are obliged to undergo the legalization procedure when recruiting each new worker. Migrant workers cannot change their employers without applying for a new work permit. Thus, there emerges a situation when informal relations are more competitive and economically efficient that formal ones2.
The statistical data collected by the RF Federal Migration Service (RF FMS) concerning the attraction of temporary foreign workers in 2011 reveal a slight growth on the previous year. The number of work permits issued in 2011 is 1,219.8 thousand, which is higher than in 2010 by no more than 4%. Within that group, a slight increase occurred with regard to ‘visawaivers’. However, from that year onwards, within the framework of the newly created Customs Union, the citizens of Kazakhstan enjoy the same right to work in Russia without applying for work permits as has previously been granted to the citizens of Belarus. This was to give rise to a growing number of legally employed ‘visa-waiver’ workers, although Kazakhstan’s share in labor migration into Russia had always been very modest (no more than 1%).
However, ‘net’ growth of the number of work permits is negligible, and thus it is indicative of a continuation of the ‘restrictive’ course initiated in 2009–2010. Such policy is also fed by the numerous populist anti-migration and anti-migrants remarks which are made in anticipation of the forthcoming presidential election by various politicians willing to pander to the hostile feelings shared by part of society.
The predominance of the Central Asian component is even more visible in the labor migration flows than in ‘permanent’ migration. Its share amounts to approximately 55% of the official flow. At the same time, migration from Ukraine has been on the decline: from 30% per annum in 2000 to the present 10%. The specific features of migrants’ countries of origin clearly reflect on the composition of Russia’s migrant workforce: the share of the 18 to 29year-olds is constantly increasing (38.6% in 2010). From the point of view of labor efficiency this is, no doubt, the most favorable factor, given the fact that the low-skilled jobs that are largely offered to the newcomers (the enclaves of the so-called 3D labor: dirty, dangerous, demeaning) require that they should be very strong and physically fit. At the same time, the prevalence of these Magaziny ‘Ashan’ v Moskve priostanovili torgovliu alkogolem. [The Auchan Stores in Moscow Suspended Trade in Alcohol Products]. RIA Novosti, 20 May 2009. http://ria.ru/moscow/20090520/171736039.html Naselenie Rossii 2009. Semnadtsatyi ezhegodnyi demograficheskii doklad. [The Population of Russia 2009.
The 17th Annual Demography Report. Ed. A.G. Vishnevsky. Ì.: ID VShE [Higher School of Economics’ Publishing House], 2011. P. 273.
Section Social Sphere age groups implies automatically that knowledge of the Russian language will decline, because the school years of even the oldest representatives of these groups coincided with the collapse of the USSR. Of course, a similar decline can be observed – again by comparison with that of the 1990s – in the level of their professional qualification, because in the first years of independence the network of vocational schools created in the Soviet period went in disarray not only in Russia, but also throughout the territories of the former USSR republics.
The results of surveys indicate that labor migration is increasingly absorbing those people who have previously could not afford to migrate. There is a shift towards the poorer side of the social spectrum: 84% of migrants prior to migration describe themselves as poor (38%) and very poor (46%)1.
The universally noted growth of the share of women in the worldå labor migration flows is difficult to precisely estimate in Russia. According to official data, their share changed little over the 2000s, and is fluctuating around 11–14%. However, when adjusted for the factor of the lower importance of official documentation for women (due to the specificity of their employment mostly in the services sector and in households they are far less visible for the law enforcement agencies), their share may actually become very significantly higher. The ILO’s experts estimate the percentage of women among labor migrants in Russia as being on the average at the level of 25–30%2.
All these structural parameters of external labor flows, as well as the high share of migrants on the Russian labor market – and consequently their general presence in Russian life – have for a long time3 been posing for Russia some new tasks involving the country’s social system’s adaptation to that situation. The absurdity of it, however, is that while previously it was believed that labor migrants were mainly young males who had little need in basic social services (health care and education), while there actually existed legal opportunities for getting such services, now, in spite of the increasing female component in the migration flow and the need for relevant services, the innovations introduced in the Tax Code in 2010 have actually left no options for migrants to receive them (except emergency medical care). Another task is to find some way to bring the professional characteristics of migrants in conformity with the needs of the labor market through a system of short-term retraining courses at Russian vocational and technical schools and colleges. The attempts to achieve this goal by means of ‘organized recruitment’ of migrants with the required professional qualifications in their home countries have so far been very limited. In 2011 only 200 persons were recruited in that manner, a year earlier – significantly more (2108), but these numbers are low by comparison with the actual volume of migration flows.
The key zones where foreign labor is employed have remained relatively stable: construction, trade, the processing industries, services and agriculture absorb more than 85% of all employed migrants. The slight fluctuations in the employment levels in some sectors are probably associated with the periodically increasing and shrinking opportunities for migrant Naselenie Rossii 2009. Semnadtsatyi ezhegodnyi demograficheskii doklad. [The Population of Russia 2009.
The 17th Annual Demography Report. Ed. A.G. Vishnevsky. Ì.: ID VShE [Higher School of Economics’ Publishing House], 2011. P. 266.
Otsenka nuzhd i potrebnostei zhenshchin – trudovykh migrantov. Tsentral’naiia Azia i Rossia. [An Estimations of the Needs and Requirements of Women – Labor Migrants. Central Asia è Russia.]. UNIFEM - MOT. 2009.
Even according to the FMS’ official data, in 2010 among the legal workers 78% were employed by legal entities, and 73.2% by individuals, and they stayed in Russia for a period between 6 and 12 months.
RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN trends and outlooks labor legalization. When the opportunities are more limited, as it happens to be at present, then the official indices demonstrate a downward employment trend in the construction sector where the possibilities for hiring illegal workers are traditionally greater than, say, in the processing industries (Fig. 9). The crisis has also had a certain impact on the by-sector distribution of foreign workers.
While for the Russian economy as a whole the share of legally employed foreign workforce in 2010 was only 2.4%, for some sectors and regions foreign workers have long ago become nearly indispensable. For example, in the construction sector the share of foreign workforce (FWF) is 11.8%. Given the presence of the illegal component in labor migration, that parameter in reality may at least double.
100% Other activities 10,Services sector*** 80% 14,Transport and communications 27,18,16,60% Wholesale and retail trade, housing repair services Construction 40% 36,39,15,31,Processing industries 6,20% 15,13,5 11,9 Agriculture 8,7,5 7,6,0% FWF, 2009 FWF, 2010 FWF **, RF, 2010* * Number of employed in the RF economy, less FWF (foreign workforce).
** Based on notifications submitted by employers concerning the attraction and use of foreigners in labor activity, arriving in the RF in a visa-waiver procedure.
*** Operations with immovable property, education, health care and social services, other types of social and personal services, and utilities.
Source: Trud i zaniatost’ v Rossii 2011. [Labor and Employment in Russia 2011]. Rosstat, 2011. Federal Migration Service of Russia.
Fig. 9. The By-Sector Structure of Population Employment and Foreign Workforce in Russia, in Moscow, 2009–2011, as % Surveys of employers1 demonstrate that in Moscow and other big cities across Russia foreign worker have taken up a significant part of the labor market. According to official statistics, in 10 Russian regions the share of foreign workforce in the total number of employed in the economy is above 5% (2010), in another 13 regions – is somewhere between 3% and 5%.
The results of an all-Russian survey of enterprises and organizations conducted in April and May 2010 by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) (ordered by the autonomous non-profit organization OPORA-Druzhba (1,500 organizations in 47 regions of Russia).
Section Social Sphere In real terms this means that migrants have become a numerically important factor on the labor markets of a quarter of all Russian regions. It can be assumed that, when adjusted for the illegal component, the presence of foreign labor there is approximately the same as in some European countries – 8% or 9% (Italy, Germany).
Among the leaders in relative terms (the share of FWF in total employment levels) are Russia’s West Siberian and North European regions rich in oil and natural gas deposits; the regions of the Far East that suffer from the out-migration of their own population; the rapidly developing Kaluga Oblast, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Kaliningrad Oblast, Moscow, and St. Petersburg (Fig. 10).
2,Note. All the 24 regions presented here are those where the share of FWF in the total number of employed in a region’s economy is above the mean Russian level.
Source: Trud i zaniatost’ v Rossii 2011. [Labor and Employment in Russia 2011]. Rosstat, 2011.
Fig. 10. Share of Foreign Workforce in the Total Number of Employed in Regional Economies across Russia, 2010, as % The situation in Moscow is illustrative. The projects involving the city’s territorial expansion into the surrounding regions and the substantial growth of its population (over the period between the two crises (2003–2010) it increased by 1.2 m) take place against the backdrop of the highest possible employment level (nearly all its economically active population is employed) coupled with a very low unemployment rate (1.7% in 2010). Other than migration, there exist no sources for filling that large and versatile labor market. At the same time, judg % RF Jewish AO Nenets AO Tula Oblast Amur Oblast Chukotka AO St. Petersburg Irkutsk Oblast Kaluga Oblast Ryazan Oblast Primorskii Krai Sakhalin Oblast City of Moscow Kamchatka Krai Magadan Oblast Khabarovsk Krai Astrakhan Oblast Leningrad Oblast Kalinigrad Oblast Trans-Baikal Krai Sverdlovsk Oblast Republic of Sakha Khanty-Mansi AO Novosibirsk Oblast Yamalo-Nenets AO RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN trends and outlooks ing by the declarations of the former and current city mayors, foreign workforce – with the exception of highly qualified labor – are clearly unwelcome. The city’s quotas for FWF decrease year on year. According to official data, in 2010 Moscow hosted 345.1 thousand foreign workers, thus coming eighth among 83 RF subjects by the share of foreigners in the total number of employed (5.8%). The structure of migrant employment in Moscow is also remarkable: more than 5% of migrants in that city are engaged in agriculture, forestry, hunting and mineral resources extraction – which sounds incredibly fantastic for a country’s capital, and only 20.4% work in construction.
Besides Moscow, another champion in producing issues relating to the ratio between the legal and illegal components of foreign workforce is Krasnodar Krai, where large-scale construction projects are being implemented in preparation to the 2014 Olympic Games. As shown by statistical data, only 1.9% of all employed there are foreign worker. At the same time, 63% are employed in construction – and the information collected by experts indicates that it is the construction sector where the Krai Commission on Quotas most often grants to employers the requested number of foreign workers.
In the majority of the crisis-ridden old industrial regions of the European center of Russia, Northwest, the Volga region, and the backward and labor-redundant republics of North Caucasus the share of migrants in the total number of employed is under 1%.
Thus, the distribution of labor migrants is an illustrative example of a territorial mobility driven by the ‘correct’ economic self-regulation mechanisms of regional labor markets. These would have been even more visible if the authorities had not been so much inclined to impose restrictions through establishing federal quotas, which are then translated into regional quotas.
The relatively new external labor policy instruments applied in the sphere of migration are the issuance of patents to migrants employed by physical persons and the attraction of highly qualified specialists (HQS).
With regard to the former innovation it can be said that last year the number of actually issued patents surged, thus amounting to 810 thousand against 130 thousand in 2011. However, the specificity of the statistical records kept by the RF Federal Migration Service is such that it is impossible to know the true per annum number of foreign citizens working in Russia under that regime, because one migrant worker can be issued several patents over the course of one year.