The Khusnullin-Nabiullina paradox
In early September, the vice-mayor of Moscow, Vladimir Efimov, announced a shortage of 200 thousand migrants at once at the capital's construction sites. The problem is absolutely not speculative - the shortage in the very near future will result in a noticeable increase in housing prices.
Efimov is echoed by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, who claims that the country now lacks almost 1,2 million foreign workers. And if Russians want to provide themselves with cheap and comfortable housing, then 2024 million guest workers will be required by 5.
According to the Deputy Prime Minister, workers from Central Asia are unique in their ability to work 12 hours a day for 40-50 thousand rubles a month. It is unprofitable to hire their own citizens, since they demand a higher salary, and for their rights, if something happens, they will be able to stand up. The law is often on the side of the employee, which makes employers look for alternative ways of enrichment.
The head of the Bank of Russia Elvira Nabiullina also spoke about the structural changes in the Russian labor market. In her opinion, further economic growth is impossible without an abundant influx of migrants. Otherwise, we will see an even greater acceleration of inflation, disastrous for many.
Labor migration adherents from the Russian government not only complain about the absence of migrants, but also propose a radical solution to the problem - special charter flights from Central Asia and a simplified entry regime. As usual, we propose to solve a complex and multifaceted problem by cardinal and simplest steps. One of the reasons why, for example, developers are actually blackmailing with high housing prices is low labor productivity.
If we compare with Western countries, then for every dollar of GDP we have two or even three times more labor costs. That is why more workers are required for production with lower wages. Low labor productivity is a real scourge of the Russian economy, which they promised to deal with back in 2012.
Everyone remembers the President's "May Decrees" with benchmarks of XNUMX-fold productivity growth?
Since then, growth, of course, has been observed, but creeping - by 1,5-2% per year. In 2014, Vladimir Putin complained in vain:
"We still cannot use the key reserve of economic development, I mean the growth of labor productivity."
As a result, Russia is in the world ranking of labor efficiency at the end of its third decade. We are inferior, in particular, to the countries of the Baltic States and South America.
Migrant workers in this stories look very profitable.
First, they allow employers not to think about increasing labor productivity. Why, if there is always an unhappy Tajik or Uzbek at his side, whose family is dragging out a half-starved existence at home? Automation and hiring highly qualified personnel are not beneficial to anyone.
Secondly, the attraction of guest workers allows you to effectively avoid the tax burden. Dealers save a lot on contributions to the pension fund, social insurance, and often - to the state tax treasury. The case can take radical forms.
Surely every reader in his native region has heard about illegal migrant workers?
They live in terrible conditions, work for days and, in the end, are marginalized. Even officially arranged migrants cause discontent among those around them. And the point here is far from the nationalism on the part of the Russians. The reluctance of migrants to socialize, and sometimes outright criminality, become the cause of conflicts.
Everyone has heard the story of the brutal murder of a pensioner by a couple of guest workers from a plastic construction plant near Moscow. Residents of the village of Buzhaninovo, where the tragedy happened, for years demanded to dissolve the local hostel with migrants for the inappropriate behavior of the inhabitants. As a result, foreign workers were resettled in the surrounding area, but only after the murder. They promptly put everyone on record, took samples of biomaterial - everything that had to be done much earlier.
All of the above fits into a not very positive picture: on the one hand, the country suffers from low labor efficiency, and on the other, the leadership advocates the prompt import of as many migrants as possible. This naturally neutralizes all efforts to increase labor productivity in Russia.
Such is the paradox of Khusnullin-Nabiullina.
The social consequences of the massive influx of guest workers do not seem to worry economists?
The domino effect
If we discard all potentially destructive nationalist motives like “Russia for Russians” and try to soberly analyze the consequences of the import of several million migrants, then an amusing picture will emerge.
First of all, difficulties will arise for students of technical schools and colleges. Over the past years, the country's leadership, through the Ministry of Education, has diligently discouraged schoolchildren from higher educational institutions in favor of vocational education. Not all of them, of course, but it was possible to send quite a substantial share to working specialties.
You do not need to be a visionary to understand who will be taken away from jobs by migrants in the first place. From future crane operators, welders, plasterers and other college graduates with technical schools.
What to do with this army of unemployed? Send to sit out your pants for minimum wages as security guards and watchmen? Or leave to fend for themselves?
Many supporters of cheap labor cite the example of European countries. Say, they have nowhere without guest workers.
Maybe we have begun to live so well that it is time to massively resort to the help of foreigners?
Bad example, let's face it. In Europe, migrants are resorted to not because of low wages, but because of the expensive labor force inside the country. Someone will say that these are identical concepts. Not really.
It's all about the high export orientation of Western countries, and expensive workers, for example, a German burgher will have a very bad effect on the sales of another Volkswagen outside Germany. It is outside - in their own country, the Germans can easily afford cars assembled by the hands of the Germans. By the way, in full accordance with the behests of Henry Ford, who believed that every worker at the plant should be able to purchase their own products.
And we need guest workers for the production of domestic consumption. In the export industries (defense and oil refining), migrants are not particularly noticed. The sphere of use of visitors is, first of all, construction.
As a result, cheap workers from Central Asia have completely corrupted the developers, who are not ready to invest part of their income in improving the efficiency and social benefits for hired citizens. It is much easier to keep guest workers in a semi-legal position and raise excess profits. And then blackmail the state by raising housing prices in case of refusal to import labor.
For the state, the influx of migrants is not only a stop-valve for inflation, but also a tool to curb internal migration.
Moscow is now deeply concerned about the outflow of the population from Eastern Siberia and the Far East. Shoigu is even going to build cities with mega-enterprises beyond the Urals. Most likely with the involvement of Central Asian workers?
And if all conditions are created for the free movement of workers throughout the country and the borders are closed for visitors, what will happen?
From the unemployed east of the country, people will generally go to work in Western Siberia, the Urals and the Moscow region.
Another significant bonus to the piggy bank of migrant workers is the institution of registration that restricts the freedom of employment. A Russian without a registration formally does not have the right to refuse a job. But in reality this happens all the time. Because there is no desire to contact documents, and the employee himself with temporary registration seems to be unreliable. And in the nearest migrant workers' artel, everything is strict - there is a chief and a team that depends on him.
The financial issue of benefits from migrant labor cannot be considered without analyzing the spectrum of spending by migrants. Migrant workers go to Russia out of despair at home, and about half of their wages are sent home in transfers.
By a strange coincidence, neither Nabiullina nor Khusnullin mentioned this strategic channel for withdrawing funds.
If Russian citizens are attracted to work, the employer will have to pay a rather large package of taxes. This, of course, will raise the price of real estate, but also fill the budget with new receipts. Which, again, can be invested in targeted mortgages for citizens in need. Or in soft loans for the purchase (production) of new automated equipment for developers.
The circulation of finance, the well-being of citizens and a powerful incentive to increase the cherished productivity of labor.
Of course, everything is smooth only on paper. But maybe it's worth at least trying, and not dreaming about 5 million labor migrants?