Migrant Labor Market in Russia: Influence of the Pandemic

Sedlov A.P., Kubishin E.S., Soboleva I.V.


The article deals with the problem of the COVID-19 pandemic impact on the migrant labour market in Russia. It is noted that at the time the pandemic began, Russia was in a transitional state from a positive migration balance, typical for recipient countries, to a negative one observed in donor countries. The pandemic-related suspension of the «brain drain» depriving the domestic labour market of skilled labour is considered by the authors as a positive moment of the pandemic. The situation with labour migrants from the CIS countries is not so unambiguous. The closure of the borders blocked the return home of a significant part of them. At the same time, there is no clear assessment of the scale of the outflow, although account can go into millions. This moment is confirmed by a decrease in the remittances volume from Russia to the CIS countries and a sharp increase in the number of unfilled vacancies in the migrants' branches of traditional employment. As a result, a peculiar variant of structural unemployment was formed in the Russian labour market, combined with a shortage of personnel, especially in the activities most affected by the pandemic. At the same time, the replacement of guest workers by Russians, including internal migrants, is not observed, although the possibility of competition between migrants and local workers cannot be completely ruled out. According to the authors, the pandemic affects the labour market in two directions, affecting the need for foreign labour: transition of working conditions to the risk zone and creation of unmanned technologies that displace people. In the Russian realities, both these aspects are considered in the context of (тут можно убрать) increasing demand for foreign labour. At the same time, an employer is dominant, who has an intention to create low-quality jobs suited for unpretentious guest workers. However, the pandemic could give impetus to a shift towards new employment conditions standards in terms of higher wages for migrants and the development of an extensive workplace safety system for all workers. Furthermore, the state should play a key role in this process.


migration; international labour migration; foreign labour force; re-emigration; labour market; labour supply; competition in employment; wages; working conditions.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2021.03.04

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