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Russian Labour Ministry reports 2002 employment and benefit statistics

Moscow, 19 February: Approximately a quarter of the population of Russia, or 35.8m people, had been living below the poverty line by the beginning of this year, says a survey released by an extended meeting of the board of the Russian Labour Ministry, Prime-TASS reported on Wednesday [19 February].

The percentage of the population whose real income is below the minimum subsistence level remains very high, sources from the Labour Ministry said, The proportion of 10 per cent of the richest population whose income surpassed low-income groups by 14 times in 2001 remains unchanged until now. Despite an upward change in birth statistics last year, the process of population decline continues.

By 1 December 2002 the population had been estimated at 143.2m, which was 0.5 per cent down against the statistics at the beginning of last year. An inconsiderable population growth achieved due to migration last year has recompensed the natural loss of the population by 8.7 per cent only.

The situation on the labour market has improved, the Labour Ministry said. The number of workers employed in the economic sector increased from 64.8m in December 2001 to 67.3m by the end of 2002.

The average number of employees has grown by 3 per cent, or 1.9m; the number of people who live on the dole counted in accordance with International Labour Organization standards dropped from 6.4m to 5.5m or by 14 per cent. At the end of last year, the number of unemployed totalled 5.1m, or 7.1 per cent of the overall economically active population. By the end of last year, the number of registered people who live on the dole was 1.31m, or 1.8 per cent of the economically active population without Chechnya, and 1.5m, including Chechnya.

In 2002, the number of unemployed on record files of unemployment departments rose by approximately 17 per cent. More than 1.1m were provided with unemployment benefits worth R830 a month on average.

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