Posted 13 марта 08:25

Published 13 марта 08:25

Modified 13 марта 09:05

Updated 13 марта 09:05

Nomadic souls from Rosstat: the counting of able-bodied citizens has gone into the field of manipulation

13 марта 2023, 08:25

How in Russia there were almost a million more able-bodied citizens in a month

Good news: there are more not only jobs in Russia, but also able-bodied people. Didn't you notice? But Rosstat found them right after the New Year, showing statistics that interrupted a long period of decline. Novye Izvestia, together with experts, figured out how real this new workforce is

Maria Sokolova

Throughout all 12 months of 2022, Russia recorded a decrease in the number of able-bodied population in relation to the same periods of 2021.

If in December 2021 there were 75.7 million able–bodied people in the country, then in December 2022 there were only 74.9 million people. You can understand: it was a difficult year. But Rosstat has released the collection "The Socio-economic situation of Russia" for January 2023, and it states that now there are 75.6 million able-bodied citizens in Russia. That's how, in 1 month, Sergey Galkin's department found 700 thousand previously unaccounted for people in the prime of life.

Let's say it's difficult to count people – they could have hidden. But the miracles do not end there. But employment is also growing: in December 2022, 59.9% of the working-age population (approximately 44.86 million people) had jobs, and in January 2023, employment increased to 60.1% (45.43 million people). That is, about 570 thousand jobs were created in the country in a month. And occupied (!) jobs. Did Rosstat really not notice them before? "NI" sent an appeal to Rosstat with a request to explain why such changes took place. Maybe the calculation method has changed without too much noise? But by the time of publication, no response had been received from the department. What caused such changes – we find out together with experts.

Ghost census and real pension reform

The first reason that could affect the results is the population census of 2021.

This opinion is shared by the general director of the law firm "Gebel and Partners", a member of the General Council of "Business Russia" Sergey Gebel:- Back in 2022, the total population was determined without taking into account the results of the 2021 census.

Since, according to the new data, the population has increased, the number of able-bodied citizens will be more during calculations and assessments. The population census conducted in 2020-2021 could really affect the official population of Russia.

By January 1, 2022, Rosstat counted 145.48 million people in the country, and after the publication of the census results – 146.98 million people. That's how 1.5 million previously lost Russians were found. Igor Nikolaev, Chief Researcher at the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, notes that there is no global discrepancy with the data:

- If our population as a whole is increasing, then the number of the labor force is also increasing. That is, one goes with the other quite normally. That's why censuses are conducted to clarify such indicators. After all, the number of the labor force is not an indicator of the number of registered unemployed, it is the same indicator as the population, which requires its clarification. Despite the entire registry office system, each census shows that the results may differ. Not only here, in Russia, so everywhere.

But independent demographer Alexey Raksha sees the reason for the abrupt growth of the workforce in a completely different way:


- As far as I have heard, Rosstat does not use census data. This is all the result of pension reform, namely, raising the retirement age. In the second half of 2022, no one retired without benefits, and this year no one will retire without benefits. Accordingly, in a year and a half, no one will retire without benefits, although people will cross the previous age limit, and there are a lot of them. In a year and a half, our able-bodied population will grow by 3 million just because the retirement age has been raised. Until 2023, people did not retire every six months - for example, retirement was permanent earlier, in 2019, in 2020, and then it will be only in even-numbered years – in 2024, 2026 and 2028. And now there will be no retirement in odd years. 

It turns out that there were no more people in the country overnight.

It's just that some elderly people were not considered an economically active part of the population before and dropped out of the labor force, and now they have suddenly become economically active, but without a pension. That is, we are talking about changing the indicator exclusively on paper. And for people who are looking for work, and for employers who are looking for employees, such a change means almost nothing.

And as for the results of the census, which faced a lot of criticism due to the fact that people did not see the volunteers making house-to-house rounds, Alexey Raksha recommends not to trust them:

- This census is so ugly that it is better not to use it and generally forget that it was. I strongly recommend not using not only the census, but also all the coefficients – from now on in Russia all demographic coefficients are incorrect. All erroneous. Because Rosstat is obliged to recalculate in all denominators, replace the old population with a new population according to the census, and in the whole country and in most regions this will simply cause damage to statistics and its unreliability. She was, to put it mildly, imperfect before, but now she's gone altogether.

And the unemployed have become employed... since Monday

But what about jobs?

There is nowhere to take them just like labor. Margarita Vasyunina, PhD in Economics, Associate Professor of the Finance Faculty of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, claims that this is a natural result of the development of the economy and state support:

- A number of factors had an impact. One of them is the adaptation of employers to new economic realities. Free niches of the Russian market are actively occupied by new companies that attract staff in various areas. We should not forget about the active growth in the number of self-employed who have fixed their status. At the beginning of March 2023, the number of these economic entities reached 7 million people, which is 7% higher than in January 2023 and 80% more than in January 2022. The applied mechanisms of assistance from both the state employment service and corporate departments for the development of employers' human resources have a significant impact on the increase in employment.

But this does not answer the question of why the number of employed jobs increased in January, when the country has long holidays and people are resting.

However, Igor Nikolaev does not see any contradiction here – only the peculiarities of the Russian mentality:

- The easiest way to explain is that the data was drawn. But people like to start life on Monday. And when such issues as, for example, getting a new job are solved, many people try to get a job from the New Year. So I fully admit that in January we really had such an increase in this regard. 500 thousand is a big figure, of course, but for a country where we have more than 70 million people of working age, we can probably still agree that this took place. Because people have been able to go to work since the New Year. There may be doubts, but I would rather agree with this figure. However, in January 2022, for some reason, people were in no hurry to get a job or register as self-employed.

On the contrary, at the beginning of 2022, there were about 900 thousand fewer jobs in Russia. Was it just a coincidence? Independent economist Ivan Antropov draws attention to the fact that Rosstat has a lot of opportunities for manipulating statistics:

- In regular collections, Rosstat provides detailed data on the number of replaced jobs only in the field of large business. The sector of small and medium-sized businesses remains in the shadows outside the close attention of the statistical service. At the same time, "persons working in their own economic units" are taken into account to assess employment. That is, we are talking about informal employment. If you went on your own and sold a backpack on Avito, for example, then you can be attributed to busy persons. If you have grown potatoes for your family in the country, and sold the surplus, then you are also a busy person. Even if this backpack was exchanged not for money, but for potatoes from neighbors – this is also employment. It is extremely difficult to reliably take into account such moments. Therefore, it remains just to take Rosstat's word for it.

Planning is canceled

But trust still needs to be earned.

While Rosstat is making every effort to destroy this trust, Alexey Raksha adds:- Without any resolutions, part of the mortality statistics has already been closed.

It happened exactly a year ago, they just retroactively changed the federal plan of statistical work and that's it. This is done very quickly. So far, there is a corruption of statistics, unspecialistic, due to the destruction of the state. The state is being destroyed – and statistics are being destroyed. 

In theory, state statistics should be an important tool for further planning the work of not only the state apparatus, but also commercial enterprises.

They also need to understand the opportunities in the labor market. But when one January morning the number of occupied jobs is reduced by 900 thousand, on another January morning it becomes 570 thousand more, and the new workforce turns out to be illusory, there is no need to talk about any planning.