Regions Ordered to Create Jobs

President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday warned regional governments to get serious about fighting unemployment and ordered his representatives to the federal administrative districts to "deal with" those who are neglecting a federally funded effort to create jobs.

The government has allocated 43 billion rubles ($1.3 billion) to boost employment in the regions this year amid growing concern that the worsening economy could lead to unrest. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered Audit Chamber head Sergei Stepashin on Tuesday to keep him updated on how the funds are being used.

"Everyone needs to decide for himself what needs to be done, but when it comes to the labor market -- creating new jobs and supporting our citizens -- these are paramount concerns," Medvedev said at his Gorky retreat, Interfax reported.

Medvedev said unemployment had reached 1.5 million people, a 20 percent increase since Oct. 1, and Health and Social Development Minister Tatyana Golikova warned that the figure could rise to 2 million people this year.

The federal funds should go toward public works projects and measures to help with temporary employment, such as paying for workers' relocation costs, Medvedev said.

"Regional authorities need to cooperate with employers and labor unions," he said, adding that they should consider forming trilateral commissions to study the matter.

Medvedev also said companies should think twice before hiring foreign employees, in an apparent reference to workers from other former Soviet republics. As an example, Medvedev mentioned a visit he made this week to Ingushetia, which has 57 percent unemployment, the highest in the country. "Despite having this 57 percent unemployment rate, I believe that 4,000 workers have been invited from abroad, and they do not know what they should do with them," he said.