“Reaching the pre-crisis unemployment rate depends on controlling the pandemic”

Experts have estimated how quickly those who lost their jobs during the lockdown will be able to find a job again

In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, the unemployment rate in Tatarstan, as in Russia as a whole, has reached record levels. In the republic, the figures have doubled since the announcement of non-working days in April — to 1,88%. All summer, in the absence of business prospects, the figures were growing and peaked in August at 3,89%. In the districts as a whole, the situation developed synchronously (with some time lags). However, there were municipalities where it was most difficult to find a job. Read more information in Realnoe Vremya's own research.

Pestretsy, Yelabuga and Kazan — outsiders in unemployment

The unemployment rate was rising in all the crisis periods of our country. The severe pandemic of 2020 was no exception. At the beginning of the year, the unemployment rate in Tatarstan was 0,56-0,61%. After the announcement of non-working days across the country, in April, it more than doubled to 1,88%. All summer, the figures were growing and reached a peak in August — 3,89%.

For each district, the problem of unemployment had its own aspects, and each municipality coped with it as best it could. There were districts where the situation was more difficult than in others.

For example, Pestrechinsky district started the year with an unemployment rate of 0,52% (it was 0,56% throughout Tatarstan), and ended it with an indicator of 7,32%, which is almost twice higher than the maximum in the republic. The worst indicator was achieved in October and amounted to 9,72%. According to this indicator, the municipality led the anti-rating by unemployment rate in Tatarstan.

The second with the worst indicators in the republic — Yelabuga district. In December, the unemployment rate fell to 2,89% (from a high of 5,04%), which is one percent higher than the republican rate (1,9%).

The capital of Tatarstan rounds out the top three outsiders in terms of unemployment with a level of 2,66% by the end of the year. Moreover, the peak with an indicator of 5,08% fell on September.

“Salary expectations” and bankruptcy failed?

What is the reason for such difference in indicators in the districts? There is clearly more than one reason. According to experts, the flexibility of businesses with the optimisation of labour resources, the share of seasonal work, the peculiarity of foreign trade, the resource base and other factors could affect it.

“If we talk about the beginning of the year, the release of staff was almost in all areas of the economy, and people thought that everything would halt and stop," says the head of GMC Consulting, Galina Mashtakova.

“In the spring and summer of last year, almost all sectors of the economy sank significantly, and now they are gradually recovering. Even in the service sector, in particular in HoReCa, there were positive changes: thanks to increased domestic tourism during the New Year holidays, we did not have enough staff either in restaurants or in hotels. Despite that tourists were careful to travel to other regions, the occupancy rate in hotels and restaurants was similar to the holidays in previous years. To serve this flow of people, companies even resorted to hiring temporary staff.

According to her, at the moment, the unemployment rate is already declining. If we compare the indicators as of January 1, 2021, they are comparable to the unemployment rate as of May 1, 2020. According to official statistics, in some areas of Tatarstan, the unemployment rate is already less than 1%, the expert noted:

“The high level of unemployment in the Pestrechinsky district is also due to that it is close to Kazan. And salary expectations have affected. In the district itself, the offers are at the level of the other municipalities. And the unemployed are waiting for a tempting job offer in the city. In Pestretsy, the situation may be related to that there was a number of enterprises on the verge of bankruptcy back in 2019, and in 2020, it is quite possible that they closed. One of the enterprises is connected with the agricultural sector, and the second enterprise is connected with the production of metal structures, with supplies to construction sites.

“Low unemployment is also bad for us”

According to Mashtakova, according to the results of 2020, mostly those who worked in the field of sales are looking for a job: “At all levels, starting from call centre specialists to the level of commercial directors. There are still many specialists in finding work related to construction. These are engineers, design engineers, administrative supply department engineers, foremen, site managers.” At the same time, there are more than enough vacancies in the republic, the market is reviving, she believes. Therefore, it is possible to find a decent job, in principle, as well as to get additional competencies.

There is still a good selection of vacancies for IT specialists, there are quite a lot of interesting offers on the market for them. Photo: realnoevremya.ru

“We still have a good selection of vacancies for IT specialists, and there are quite a lot of interesting offers on the market for them. The situation with unemployment will change in the near future, well, at most, probably in six months. If we lift all restrictions now, we will again have the same tension in the labour market, because we can not find people. Low unemployment is also bad for us. This is good for the unemployed. But it's bad for employers because they can't find people. For example, in the Zakamye region, one KAMAZ plant alone has about 1,750 vacancies today, while another KAMAZ plant has 1,200 vacancies. We already have a huge shortage of specialists, and now it is felt just in the zone of Zakamye, where we have the SEZ, where Nizhnekamsk is the second site of the economic zone, Mendeleevsk with its Ammonia. Therefore, we cannot say that we need to strive for this level of unemployment (0,56—0,6%). We need to learn how to regulate this labour market and keep a certain level of unemployment in acceptable values of the order of 1-1,5%," the head of GMC Consulting believes.

“Yelabuga has always been ' the first from the end' by unemployment”

According to the head of the press service of the HeadHunter Volga Region recruiting company, Alexandra Sevostyanova, the most active in job search now are students, recent graduates, sales representatives: sales cashiers, customer service managers, sales representatives; administrative staff, production specialists, transport and logistics specialists, accountants, IT specialists, real estate construction specialists, working staff, advertising and PR workers.

“In 2020, in April-May, competition in the market increased very much in general. If the normal level is 5-6 resumes per vacant position, then in May this figure increased to 9,2 units (resumes per vacancy). The competition grew noticeably. For Tatarstan, this is considered a high level. On average, there are 5-6 resumes in the republic. Now the situation has normalised," Sevostyanova said.

Deputy Director of the Employment Centre of Yelabuga State Institution, Guzaliya Saleyeva, commented on one of the worst indicators of her district by unemployment:

“Yelabuga has always been ' the first from the end' by unemployment, if we look at statistics. Perhaps, this is due to the so-called “gray market”. The peculiarity of the situation in 2020 was that applications to the employment centre were accepted online, and people could not even live in Yelabuga (not permanent residents of Yelabuga). There were cases when people actually lived abroad. In this case, even the profession was difficult to determine. The information was received only through the Pension Fund. According to the online application, it was possible to determine only the last place of work, but mostly long-term unemployed people (over a year) applied — more than a thousand (one-third of all applications for the year).

The interlocutor of the publication agreed that the high level of unemployment in the Pestrechinsky district may be due to the proximity to Kazan and that the Pestretsy residents who lost their jobs most likely worked in the Tatarstan capital. Perhaps, the “gray labour market” also played a role. At the same time, there were no large number of layoff in the republic in 2020, according to her:

“Now the unemployment rate is decreasing. We have a plan to reduce the unemployment rate to the pre-crisis level by the end of this year.

“The poorer the region — the higher the unemployment rate”

Let's look at what happened in the whole country in the “most idle year”. Unemployment in Russia is officially estimated as the average. Rosstat “weighs” the unemployment rate for 3 months for the subjects of Russia, which gives a calmer picture. However, the crisis of the pandemic is also seen through these figures.

For example, from 2018, the unemployment rate of the population aged 15 years and older decreased (in waves) from 5,1% (January-March) to the summer of 2019 (4,4%). After that, a smooth growth began, and the step mark of 5% unemployment was overcome in February-April 2020. The maximum values were reached in June-October of the same year (6,3%).

Ingushetia became the anti-leader in terms of unemployment. Moreover, the maximum achieved by July-September of 31,2% did not decrease by the end of the year. The second place in the “unemployed rating” was taken by Chechnya with a level of 23,3%, which fell to 21% by the end of the year. Tyva rounds out the top three (22,3%) in June-August, which improved the indicator by 2 p.p. by the end of the year, to 18,2%.

Commenting on these figures, Vladimir Gimpelson, the director of the HSE Centre for Labor Research, noted that in Russia the regions are different by all indicators:

“Somewhere salaries are high, somewhere significantly lower, somewhere employment is higher, somewhere lower, somewhere more housing is being built, somewhere less. In the North Caucasus, in Ingushetia, there is always high unemployment and low income, there is nothing new here. Both Chechnya and Tyva have unemployment rates for the same reasons. The lower the income level, the poorer the region as a whole, the higher the unemployment rate, all other things being equal. Reaching the pre-crisis level of unemployment will depend on the extent to which the pandemic is under control. This will affect the service sector in which many people work, on the other hand — on the policy in the field of benefits.

According to the HSE expert, if benefits are not increased and the service sector is operating at full capacity, then unemployment will return to pre-crisis levels within a year. The expert noted that the unemployment rate always depends on three circumstances that are associated with the benefit: 1) the amount of the benefit; 2) the duration of payments; 3) the conditions for receiving — how many papers need to be collected, what restrictions, who is given a large allowance, who is not given.

“The more liberal access to the benefit, the longer the benefit is paid, the more it is, the higher the unemployment rate, respectively. A person who has lost their job may take longer to find the job he or she wants while living on allowance. When there is no allowance, and there is no alternative income — we are forced to grab the first thing that comes to hand… They become couriers or janitors, respectively, you stop being unemployed. These are general patterns," Gimpelson concluded.

By Yevgeny Khramov

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