The average salary in Russia has reached 73 thousand rubles: what’s wrong

The average salary in Russia has reached 73 thousand rubles: what’s wrong


The monthly average salary in Russia exceeds 73 thousand rubles, Mikhail Mishustin said under the high arches of the State Duma. Thus, the Prime Minister, who met with deputies, unwittingly entered into a debate with the communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, according to whom it is impossible to live on a salary of 20 thousand rubles a month. But why did the data of two statesmen on the same indicator turn out to be so contrasting?

“I can show you the calculations. We know this from employers, we know every figure. What employers pay, payments to defense enterprises, participants in special military operations – they are all taken into account,” Mishustin’s arguments sounded as solid and convincing as possible. And no one argues with these arguments, as well as with the data of Rosstat. But what Zyuganov said about people living on salaries of 20 thousand rubles is also true. The whole point is that any generalized, averaged statistics are a crafty thing.

The truth, as we know, is in the details, in details as small as specks of dust, in the circumstances that determine this or that value. For example, the Ministry of Labor rightly stated that wages vary significantly across different regions of the Russian Federation and sectors of the economy. In the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug in 2023 it amounted to 158 thousand rubles, in Ingushetia – 36 thousand. In the areas of mining and IT – over 130 thousand, and in the hospitality industry (hotel business and catering) – 43 thousand.

But there is also the concept of “median salary” (in 2023 – 52 thousand rubles), that is, an indicator of earnings that has the same number of workers: 50% are above this level, 50% are below. It reflects the situation much more accurately than the average, since the spread in the numbers is huge. So, this very median salary in Russia in 2023 barely exceeded the mark of 50 thousand rubles. That is, exactly half of working Russians receive less than this amount per month. The problem is that the overall salary puzzle consists of a huge, simply infinite number of fragments, with the most bizarre forms and content. Putting all these components together and getting a cohesive final result is unrealistic. And the average one often looks absolutely meaningless. Add up the million-dollar salary of one top manager of some oil and gas giant with a dozen minimum wage recipients (our minimum wage is 19.2 thousand rubles), divide by 11, and on average you get very little…

There are a lot of social categories in the country, and each has its own salary situation. Not to mention every single household. Yes, in 2023, the salaries of Russians increased (according to Rosstat) by 7.8% year-on-year, but in structural terms this happened extremely unevenly: due to colossal injections into the military-industrial complex (in the first half of the year), turners at defense enterprises in large cities began to receive up to 200 thousand. The increase affected civil servants, security officials, and other public sector employees, but the rest were not affected by this good news. Plus, throughout the year, the labor market experienced an increasing personnel shortage, which forced employers to join the wage race against the backdrop of inflation of 7.4%.

In fact, the picture is immeasurably more complex and dramatic than it is presented in official reports. As a survey by one of the popular recruiting agencies showed, 45% of citizens do not have enough income to meet basic needs, and 18% do not even have enough income for food…

Here are a few quotes from discussions on social networks on the “sick” topic of salaries. “In the Krasnoyarsk Territory, we have 15-20 thousand rubles – not the average, but the usual salary for the majority”; “I am a school bus driver, the school works in two shifts, there is a medical examination at 6 a.m., then departure for the route, home at 7:30 p.m. Salary 19 thousand”; “Ten years ago my salary was 25 thousand, now it’s 28 thousand. My husband had 35 thousand and still has it. Considering how prices have risen over the years, we conclude that the standard of living has decreased significantly”; “I have a lot of friends, the highest salary is 40 thousand, and the rest have no more than 24 thousand. And those who earn 70 thousand hardly live at home, they are at work all day. This frantic work is causing young men to have heart attacks and strokes”; “I have a friend who sometimes gets 70 thousand. This is a hazardous workshop, heavy, dusty, 12-hour shifts. I myself have 18 thousand, plus 6 thousand for disability.” And so on and so forth…

Today, literally everything is becoming more expensive in the country – food, air tickets, utilities, public transport, cars, gasoline, maintenance, tour packages. Inflation, according to people’s feelings, is clearly growing faster than payments from the employer. In order to somehow make ends meet, 54% of Russians work overtime, working 28% longer than required by their employment contract. Mostly teachers, nurses, doctors and logistics managers overwork.

At the same time, as the Central Bank points out in the bulletin “What Trends Are Talking About,” wage growth that is not supported by growth in labor productivity gives rise to serious pro-inflationary risks. Nobody is against average wages in the country rising. Only the authorities must clearly realize that growth on average does not mean growth for everyone.


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