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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Jobless Rate Low, But Situation Dire in Some Regions

While the total number of jobless remains well below predictions made earlier this year, the unemployment situation in some regions is dire, a top labor official said Thursday.

Fyodor Prokopov, head of the Federal Employment Service, said total unemployment in June hit 7.7 percent, or around 5 million of Russia's 70 million strong workforce, an increase from 7.1 percent at the beginning of the year.

Prokopov predicted total unemployment would reach 8.3 percent, or around 6 million, by the end of the year.

The number is considerably higher than the level of officially registered jobless that reached 2.2 million in June, up from 1.6 million in the beginning of the year, Prokopov said. Many unemployed do not bother to register as social benefits are meager and hard to obtain.

Prokopov said, unemployment is still far below the 15 million jobless that some analysts had forecast for 1995.

He also pointed to Russians' propensity to tolerate nonpayment of wages for months at a time.

"Even after not being paid for months, people are not leaving their jobs and are hoping for the better."

But despite an unemployment rate that is relatively low compared to other transitional economies, Prokopov said there is strong differentiation between regions, and some of them are in a desperate situation.

Whereas the registered unemployment rate in Moscow is just 0.5 percent of the workforce, in the nearby textile town of Ivanovo it is 10.2 percent, soaring to 19 percent in the North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia.

The list of depressed regions also includes the other North Caucasus republics, plus the Vladimir, Yaroslavl, Pskov, Arkhangelsk, Leningrad, Kirov and Kostroma regions.

"Urgent measures should be taken in such regions otherwise we will face a real social explosion," Prokopov said.