Ukraine War’s Impact Helps Keep Russia’s Unemployment Numbers Low – OpEd


Moscow has always reported lower unemployment in Russia than do other governments for their countries, both by outright falsification of the data and by not counting many people who are kept on the payroll of corporations but who are not in fact working or paid.

But over the last year, the Russian government has acquired a new resource that is allowing it to claim that unemployment in the Russian Federation has actually fallen: the decline in the size of the civilian labor market both because of long-term demographic changes and, more importantly, because the impact of the war in Ukraine.

As a result of Putin’s decision to expand his invasion of Ukraine a year ago, the size of the civilian workforce has declined because several hundred thousand men have fled abroad to avoid serving in Ukraine and because more men, also numbering several hundred thousand, have been enlisted in the military.

As a result, the size of the civilian labor force has declined, allowing officials to claim that the percentage of unemployed Russians has fallen as well. But the size of the decline in the number of unemployed is less than the size of the decline of the size of the workforce as a whole since the war started.

That means that unemployment in Russia has only declined because there are fewer workers in Russia and there are fewer workers in Russia this year than last because so many men have either fled the country or have been impressed into the military, a pattern that some call “the paradox” of the Russian economy (

But of course, it is not a paradox; it is simply statistical sleight of hand intended to fool those who don’t look closely at the figures.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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