Migrants prepared to leave Russia after ruble devaluation

Up to a third of labor migrants may leave Russia due to the ruble’s fall against the dollar and euro, which has led to a decrease in their incomes, the head of the Uzbek diaspora in Moscow, Bakhrom Ismailov, told Vedomosti.

He referred to a survey of Uzbek diaspora representatives, which showed that 50% of respondents are thinking about leaving Russia, 25% are not planning to do so, and another 25% are still undecided. A total of 22,800 people took part in the survey.

Because of the rising dollar exchange rate, migrants’ earnings in Russia are becoming more and more comparable to those in their home countries, Ismailov said. According to him, the outflow of migrant workers is likely to occur primarily in the least paid spheres – retail, catering, cleaning, catering, courier delivery and agriculture.

In addition to declining wages, migrants lose a portion of their earnings when sending money back home because conversion is based on the local exchange rate of the recipient’s country, Abdullo Davlatov, chairman of the Union of Tajikistanis in Russia, said. The reorientation of migrants to other countries is intensifying, he emphasized.

For example, Tajik citizens now have 15 countries to choose from to earn money. If the most popular destinations used to be Russia and Kazakhstan, now they are South Korea and the United Kingdom, where Tajiks go to spend the agricultural season.

In 2021, the average salary of migrants in Russia was 47,100 rubles, according to a study by Moscow State University and the public organization “Federation of Migrants of Russia”. At that time, the highest salaries were for those employed in construction and repair – 54 thousand rubles, and the lowest – for those employed in agriculture – 37 thousand rubles.

The outflow of foreign labor force due to the weakening of the ruble will not exceed 10% of the current number of migrants in Russia, says Vadim Kozhenov, an expert on migration issues. “Many come in general to live a different life”, he explains.

Russia is becoming less attractive for foreign workers because of its strict migration policy, low salaries compared to EU countries and disloyal attitude of law enforcement agencies, says Yury Moskovsky, project director of the Dobrosedstvo Foundation.

The biggest outflow of migrants is felt in agriculture, where they worked mainly in unskilled positions, says Yulia Aksyonova, head of the ANCOR Group of Consultants. According to her, employers are trying to fill the vacancies with local candidates and raise salaries by 10-15%.

Competition for Central Asian employees will increase, so Russia needs to attract people from other countries – India, Indonesia and Iran, according to Aleksandr Safonov, vice-rector of Finuniversity.

According to the estimate of the Ministry of Labor, by 2030, Russia’s need for migrant workers will be 3.5 million people, which is 400 thousand more than in 2022.

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