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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pay Gap Increases as City Incomes Grow

Average monthly earnings in Moscow rose by more than 22 percent in 2006 to over 30,400 rubles ($1,180), but the income gap between the capital's richest and poorest inhabitants has continued to widen, the Moscow City Statistics Service revealed in a survey published on its web site.

From June to September, the average income of the top 10 percent of the city's population was over 49 times greater than the income for the bottom 10 percent, the study said.

While the richest 10 percent earns an average of 129,700 ($5,000) rubles per month, over 17 percent of the city's population is living below the monthly poverty level of 5,120 rubles, the report said.

The statistics also indicate that a fledgling middle class is taking shape in the city, with at least 30 percent of Muscovites, numbering around 3 million, now earning more than $1,000 per month, according to calculations made by Kommersant on Monday.

Yaroslav Lisovolik, chief analyst at Deutsche Bank, agreed that income inequality is becoming more of an issue in Moscow but also emphasized the positives.

"The figures show that the Russian consumer is alive and well," Lisovolik said.

"There is a strong layer of middle class in Moscow and therefore significant potential for increased spending," he said.

"The numbers reveal that the seven years of high growth rates have benefited the population in Moscow very significantly," he said.

But Lisovolik warned that figures for Moscow are frequently skewed by the often-unaccounted-for migrant labor community from the CIS that works in the shadow economy.

Also, some have warned that the increasing income gap could have serious social ramifications, with crime and drug use rising among the poorest sectors of the population.

"You can't exclude a social cataclysm. It's not likely, but it could happen," said Viktor Ivanter, director of the Institute for Economic Forecasting at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

"It's not a problem of envy. That occurs within groups of people on the same income," he said. "For the majority of people, it is just a case of being able to live normally."

According to a breakdown by profession, the figures showed that those working in finance are the highest average earners, with monthly salaries of 45,000 rubles, followed by public relations employees, who earn an average of 28,000 rubles.

The lowest earners were in the public sector, where jobs in education offer an average 13,700 rubles per month and in health care a monthly rate of 17,200 rubles.

The statistics also chart the significant rise of prices across the board. Last year saw the average price of foodstuffs increase by 8.5 percent and of alcohol by 8.2 percent, and the cost of eating out go up by more than 15 percent.

Over the same period, the cost to purchase 1 square meter of apartment space in Moscow rose by up to 74.5 percent, the study said.