Labor force

Labor force
   Due to the Soviet legacy, the Russian workforce is highly educated and enjoys nearly universal literacy. Nine out of 10 Russian workers have completed secondary education or higher. Gender equality is also high, with women making up nearly half of the workforce in the mid-1990s, though this figure has dropped in the past decade. However, ideological concerns during the Soviet period left a negative legacy as well, with most Russian workers being trained for careers in heavy industry (construction, manufacturing, chemicals, etc.) and agriculture.
   With little to no focus on the service sector until the late 1980s, the transition to a market-based economy required extensive retraining for many workers and left others in untenable positions. During the 1990s, economic hardship hit certain sectors particularly hard, including scientists, educators, and other professions dependent on the public sector. Unemployment emerged as a major social ill during this period, particularly given the fact that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) enjoyed universal employment, at least in theory. As a result, participation in the “black” or “gray economies” became a necessary evil for many.
   Due to the control of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the perpetuation of the myth of the “worker state” under Communism, trade unions wielded little power in the Soviet and immediate post-Soviet eras. As such, wage arrears, poor working conditions, and other labor problems proved pernicious during the Yeltsin era. Russia’s labor force is currently estimated at 75 million out of a total population of 140 million.
   As president, Vladimir Putin’s plans to double the country’s gross domestic product resulted in a renewed commitment to improving the quality of the workforce, particularly through training and improved education. Demographic challenges—particularly the aging of the workforce, lowered life expectancy, massive commitments to pensioners, and low fertility rates—are expected to cause a dramatic, if not catastrophic, decline in the labor force over the coming decades. As a result, Russia is becoming increasingly dependent on immigration—particularly from the Caucasus and Central Asia—to maintain its workforce, though this has led to increasingly acute social and political problems in the Russian Federation.
   See also Chinese, Ethnic.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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