Several trends are developing in the Russian labor market at once. Since the end of September, a partial mobilization has been going on in the country, which takes young men out of the economy. Closely connected with it is the process of young people going abroad who are afraid of being called up for military service. For several weeks, the media wrote about queues at checkpoints to Finland, Georgia and Kazakhstan, about missing air tickets from sale, and a boom in the real estate market in the CIS countries. But it is very difficult to say how many people Russia has lost in this way. Demographer Aleksey Raksha told Novye Izvestia that this number can only be judged by indirect data. It's all about the features of statistics and accounting. The Russian border service only gives data on those leaving, how many people have returned is not very clear. The next report on this topic is expected on November 11. It is possible to estimate the volume of migrants according to the statistics provided by the countries hosting Russians.
“I think that no less than 200,000 people left the country in the fall”, - the expert says, “in February, around 150,000 people left, but most of them returned. We see reports of queues at the border and we can trust foreign statistics. Kazakhstan named 60,000, Georgia and Finland 28,000. But this is the lower limit, the real number may be higher. The Russians also flew to other countries, used Kazakhstan or Finland as transit, so it is difficult to collect a real picture, you need to scrupulously study the data of all countries where our compatriots could fly to.
As for the effect on the demographic situation and the economy, according to the expert, it will appear a little later. The birth rate may change 9 months after today's events.
“On their own, these waves and mobilization are not significant, but when they overlap, this can collectively have a negative effect”, - says Aleksey Raksha, “the most educated, young, promising people who are career-oriented, earning money left of money. This is detrimental to the economy and demographics. They make up a few percent of the young population. And in combination with those called up, this is already noticeable - it turns out about 600 thousand people. This is almost 4-5 percent of the number of men aged 20-35. It can lower the birth rate in 9 months. But there is another trend - refugees. We do not know how many of them entered, how many left for Europe, how many remained and who remained. Data are called from 800 thousand to 2 million. Mostly women, children and the elderly. For the most part, the disabled population, which is likely to receive assistance from the budget, is another negative for the economy. On the other hand, this number of women is a plus for demographics”.
In a short period of mobilization, several sectors of the economy at once asked the authorities to provide deferrals or reservations for employees. So representatives of the IT industry were exempted from conscription at the start of mobilization. One of its conditions was to leave programmers in their jobs. The reservation was received by companies from the register of the Ministry of Digital Development of the country.
In addition, representatives of pharmaceutical companies asked for 100% reservations, who said that it would take a very long time to replace a drafted employee. The production is complex and specific, the staff needs to be trained and trained.
Similar arguments were presented by representatives of the book and printing business. According to them, there is an acute shortage of personnel in the industry, and mobilization will leave enterprises without workers.
Several business associations immediately asked the authorities for deferrals for small and medium-sized businesses so that entrepreneurs could resolve issues with the transfer of business to trustees, or find replacements for key employees. Unlike large factories, at small enterprises each specialist is a piece, and in the event of a call, it will not be possible to quickly find a replacement for him. In a number of regions, the authorities offered such enterprises to decide for themselves and draw up lists of who is vital for the company and who can be considered as potential reservists.
Contradictory trends are also shown by that part of the labor market that is associated with foreign labor. Since February, a large number of migrants from Central Asia have been reported to have returned home. Among these returnees are persons with dual citizenship. They were leaving to avoid conscription in Russia. There are also those who left for economic reasons. The strengthening of the ruble this spring disrupted the migration economy. Newcomers work in Russia to feed their families in their homeland, but with the current exchange rate, incomes have fallen so much that it is not profitable to be in the Russian Federation.
Demographer Aleksey Raksha notes that in the case of foreigners, it is very difficult to accurately calculate the balance of how many left and arrived.
“The FMS reports on how many foreigners are in the country, but not all of these statistics are labor migrants,” the expert says, “at the same time, there is evidence that in the second quarter of 2022, there was a record departure among Russian citizens to Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan , most likely these are new citizens of Russia who received passports several years ago, and now flew back to their homeland. But this is a hypothesis, there is no official data.
Against this background, the Ministry of Labor of the Russian Federation proposed to increase the number of quotas for foreign labor that can be attracted in 2023 from 26 to 29 thousand people. Most migrants will be added to the regions of Central Russia and the Volga region. But for the rest of the regions, quotas will be cut.
In the context of these trends, the staffing situation in the taxi and delivery sector is interesting, because this industry gathered a wide variety of groups of workers from migrants to office workers who are looking for an additional source of income. Therefore, the staffing of taxi drivers should be affected by both mobilization and the migration caused by it, as well as the outflow of foreigners.
According to HR director of Citymobil Yulia Vinokurova , the situation is felt most acutely by drivers. This can be seen both in the outflow of existing personnel, and in the reduced influx of new drivers into the service, by about 15%.
“For other positions, we did not see a high trend in layoffs, but about a third of employees spoke about the preferred form of remote work,” she said. - Of course, we feel the consequences of recent events, so our main task is to keep the staff, avoiding a massive outflow of staff. We provide office staff with the opportunity to work remotely. Some employees are now experiencing a state of anxiety, so we are trying to create the most comfortable working conditions for them, holding supportive webinars, and, if employees wish, holding internal corporate events. As for foreign employees, they are in a state of uncertainty, so those who have foreign citizenship can leave for their homeland. However, we do not feel a mass trend in the outflow of personnel so far.”
A representative of the Gruzovichkov service noted that responses to vacancies have recently decreased by 40%.
“We observe that over the past two weeks the influx of new drivers has significantly decreased, the percentage of responses to a vacancy has decreased by 40%”, - said Yulia Krotova, HR director of Gruzovichkof, “a possible reduction in the number of personnel, of course, may negatively affect the company, therefore, we are already reviewing and optimizing work processes within the company. Firstly, we are increasing the number of candidates for the position of logisticians, operators among women. We do not have departments made up entirely of men, so this will not require cardinal changes in the internal regulations, many positions in departments were previously filled mainly by women. Secondly, we will form new departments, training employees from scratch for new positions for them. Thirdly, we will consider part-time students of specialized universities and not only for partial employment”.
At the same time, the company notes that even without mobilization and migration, there were difficulties in recruiting personnel in this area.
“There are never enough drivers in the logistics industry because the turnover rate is quite high in this area. More than 73% of drivers are young people under 25 who perceive the profession as a temporary part-time job with instant day-to-day payments. We have noticed that the percentage of drivers among former employees of companies that have suspended their activities in the territory of the Russian Federation is growing”, - said Yulia Krotova.
Foreign labor is involved not only in taxis and delivery, there are many such employees in housing and communal services and at a construction site. During the coronavirus pandemic, builders complained that many projects were at risk due to a severe shortage of workers, who were usually recruited from among guest workers. The industry also involves migrants. And now these areas are losing staff. As an entrepreneur from Chelyabinsk told Novye Izvestia, businesses, especially those associated with production and construction, are already being offered to replace retired employees with Chinese workers.
“We are not talking about low-skilled employees, but about more valuable personnel,” the interlocutor said, “intermediaries are actively turning to enterprises who offer to bring workers from China, organize the design of this process, accommodation, and arrangement. They say that valuable people have left you, we are ready to replace them, we are talking almost about engineering personnel. Someone agrees, because there is nowhere to go”.
According to the merchant, this process is just unfolding and the interlocutor cannot assess its scale.