Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Here is a good indicator of the reality of our job market in Armenia and how our government is trying to cover up their inability to deal with this situation.

As indicated in this story, doctors and teachers are making on average 29,000 dram a month, which should explain why bribery in those areas of society are at such a high level. Reality is that if you pay starvation wages, people starve or are forced to steal (take bribes) to survive.

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
17 August 2004

Survey Shows 30 Percent Jobless Rate In Yerevan

By Anna Saghabalian

A survey of the labor market funded by the European Union suggests a staggering 30 percent rate of unemployment in Yerevan which is three times higher than the figure reported by the Armenian government.

The EU-sponsored Armenian-European Policy and Legal Advice Center (AEPLAC)has randomly interviewed one thousand people in all districts of the capitalon their employment status, professional background and incomes. Accordingto its researchers, almost one in three respondents said they can not find ajob and half of them have university degrees.

The findings of the poll, made available to RFE/RL on Tuesday, differmarkedly from the official nationwide unemployment rate of roughly 10percent registered by the National Statistical Service. But they are largelyin tune with the estimates of independent economists and analysts. They havelong argued most of the Armenians out of work do not register with thegovernment's social services due to meager unemployment benefits and a lackof faith in their chances of finding a job with state support.

The AEPLAC survey confirms this belief, with as many as 75 percent of thosepolled saying that they have never applied to employment centers run by theMinistry of Labor and Social Affairs. Most of those who have done so do notexpect positive results, the poll shows.

The poll also found that unemployment is particularly high among engineers,a telling indicator of Armenia's post-Soviet industrial decline. "The lackof industrial development means that many engineers can not find work," saidHayk Barseghian, a leading AEPLAC analyst.

Unemployment has been the driving force of the mass out-migration of peoplefrom Armenia. At least 700,000 Armenians have left their country in searchof employment abroad, mainly for Russia and other ex-Soviet states, sinceindependence.

Government officials say the improving economic situation has reduced theprocess to a trickle in recent years. However, the unemployment remains veryhigh despite nearly a decade of economic growth -- a fact confirmed by theAEPLAC survey.

Speaking to RFE/RL, the head of the Armenian government's Department onRefugees and Migration, Gagik Yeganian, warned of a persisting danger ofrenewed exodus, arguing that the current pace of job creation is still tooslow.

"The positive trends of the last two years must not be regarded asirreversible," Yeganian said. "They could change very quickly.

"This shaky improvement can not last for long unless the situation improvesdramatically. Otherwise, it could set off a new, more powerful wave [ofemigration] which could affect between 400,000 and 800,000 people in thenext five to ten years."

The AEPLAC, which was set up in 1999 to help Armenia forge closer ties withthe EU, also sought to ascertain incomes of Yerevan-based workers. Based onthe respondents' answers, its survey estimates the average wage in the cityat 55,000 drams ($106). The nationwide average measured by officialstatistics is 40,000 drams.

The poll also found substantial gender inequality in the amount of pay, withmen earning 70,000 drams and women 40,000 drams on average. Finance andbanking sector employees were found to be the highest paid workforce with130,000 drams a month, followed by lawyers who make 91,000 drams. Publicsector doctors and school teachers are in the lowest pay category withsalaries averaging 29,000 drams, according to the research.

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