Shrinking Russia to lose 10 mn workers: official

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Russia's working-age population will probably shrink by more than 10 million people by 2025, forcing the country to attract more skilled labour from abroad, a top official said Tuesday.

Russia's 2010 census showed the country's population had declined by 2.2 million people to 142.9 million since the previous study in 2002.

The drop has largely been blamed on the dire economic conditions that helped topple the Soviet Union and then continued throughout much of the 1990s.

Russia's Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev said Russia had employed almost its entire reserve of both younger and older workers and may soon need to attract new recruits from abroad.

"We expect the number of working-age people to drop by at least 10 million people between 2011 and 2025," Interfax quoted Patrushev as saying.

Official statistics show Russia having 75.4 million working-age people in 2010.

Russian leaders have called the population shrinkage a matter of national security, with President Dmitry Medvedev using a state of the nation address in November to offer special tax allowances to large families.

The government has also mulled ways of attracting high-skilled workers to Russia despite the relatively low wages paid at many of the country's top private firms.

Patrushev said the government needed to come up with new proposals if it wanted to achieve the modernisation that Medvedev has been promoting since entering the Kremlin in 2008.

"This demands new solutions and measures to attract high-skilled labour, people from the so-called middle class who can achieve modernisation," Patrushev said.

Russia's State Statistics Committee estimates that the country's population could stand at anywhere between 132.7 and 146.7 million people by 2025.

© 2011 AFP

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