The number of registered unemployed jumped from 1.3 million at the end of April to 2.1 million at the end of May. Anton Kotyakov, Russia’s minister of labour and social protection, said that new unemployment claims have been averaging about 150,000 a week in June, bringing the total in mid-June to around 2.4 million. The number of registered unemployed has traditionally been much lower than in Rosstat’s survey-based estimate. Registering for unemployment in Russia is a laborious process and the benefit paid out is quite small. With the government’s significant increase in the unemployment benefit during the corona pandemic, unemployed workers have greater incentive to register.
Rosstat’s survey-based estimate shows that Russia had 4.3 million unemployed persons in April, and increase of about 800,000 from March. The unemployment rate rose in April to 5.8 %, a level not seen since 2015–2016. Unemployment typically remains fairly subdued in Russian recessions as the labour market tends to adjust via pay cuts or fewer hours rather than lay-offs. In the current situation, however, unemployment likely continued to rise in May. Based on a survey conducted in late May, researchers at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics found that 10 % of respondents reported that they had lost their jobs, and nearly a third said they knew somebody in their immediate circle who had been furloughed. 40 % of respondents said their wages were lower than before the pandemic. Labour incomes declined most for workers involved in construction and in service branches. The statistical data on wage trends in April and May have yet to be released.