By Paul Goble
Central Bank figures show that immigrant workers in the Russian Federation are seeing their incomes rise far faster than those paid to Russian citizens, allowing the migrants to send home increasingly large transfer payments to their families in Central Asia and elsewhere, Aleksandr Shustov says.
The primary reason for this, the Rhythm of Eurasia commentator says, is that migrant workers are often in Russia illegally and their employers don’t have to pay social welfare taxes on their salaries. As a result, they can pay them more without hurting the companies’ bottom line (ritmeurasia.org/news–2021-08-26–dohody-trudovyh-migrantov-rastut-na-porjadok-bystree-chem-u-grazhdan-rossii-56147).
Both the divergence of incomes and the increasing size of the transfer payments are sparking tensions between Russians and immigrant workers, and these will only increase if the Russian authorities continue to allow businesses to act in this gray zone to the detriment of Russian workers and Russian regions.
The Central Bank of Russia has just reported record growth in transfer payments from Russia to CIS countries for the first half of this year. The amounts are staggering, comparable or even exceeding the annual budgets of many of the federal subjects of the Russian Federation, Shustov says.
Such an increase was possible only because the growth in the incomes of labor migrants in the Russian Federation exceeded that of the incomes of Russian citizens by 150 to 200 percent; and that in turn reflects the fact that a large share of the former was working off the books and could be paid more because employers weren’t paying social security taxes.
According to Shustov, the Russian authorities should be worried about the implications of these two trends. If they continue, the migrants and their homelands will only benefit and Russians and Russia will only lose, something that Russians will see and lead at least some of them to become increasingly hostile to the migrants and the government that supports them.