President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear colleagues, we have not met for a long time. Everyone has a lot of work: both the expert community and members of the Government Cabinet who are here today have their fair share.
At our meeting today we will discuss issues related to employment, unemployment, and the Russian labour market. Of course I am not going to tell you what has been undertaken in this regard because you follow these events as closely as I do and are involved in developing specific recommendations. I would very much like you to speak so that members of the Cabinet responsible for the relevant fields can hear your thoughts on these issues, and then we can exchange ideas on what to do next.
The one thing I cannot help but say is that the situation is certainly very difficult; this is the case all over the world and it is very much affecting us as well. Suffice it to say that we have already achieved the rates of registered unemployment that we expected to reach perhaps by the end of 2009: according to available data, already almost 2,200,000 people are registered as unemployed.
And if we look at the real unemployment rate, it is also growing very quickly. These figures, calculated using ILO [International Labour Organisation] methods, have grown impressively: over the past six months the rate of real unemployment among the economically active population has increased by almost 3 percent and is already almost 8.5 percent. At the same time, just six months ago this figure was 5.3 percent.
Of course the question is one of comparison: for example, at the height of the 1998 crisis it was 13.3 per cent, a figure that is much worse. But these are not the kind of indicators we want and, indeed, this is the purpose behind our meeting, discussion and perhaps the recommendations that we could prepare together.
That is all I wanted to say at the beginning of our event. Let's start working.
Something I wanted to say about the topics we are discussing. If you go back to the G20 [summit] and open the door on some discussions that took place there and were naturally closed to the public, we see the following: strange as it may seem, discussions involving the creation of new jobs (and perhaps this is not strange, but rather normal) were the most complex. And when it came to the final communique and the very mention of a specific figure of new jobs to be created (the figure was 19 million), after discussion in the end this was changed to a neutral “number”: millions of jobs should be created.
This shows the difficulty of the task at hand. At the same time, you know that the G20 provided for very significant figures to support the global economy and different programmes, and there the figures were cited with absolutely “proletarian” directness: five trillion, a trillion one hundred billion. Here things were absolutely specific. And yet it was not possible to get specific figures for jobs. And this was quite a serious, conscious position that was taken. I just wanted you to take this into account.