Real Income in Russia Will Continue to Fall for Sixth Year, Experts Predict

Experts from Moscow’s Higher School of Economics (HSE) and Russia’s Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) are predicting that Russians’ incomes will fall for a sixth consecutive year in 2019, the Moscow Times reports.

Earlier this year, based on a methodology that has been criticized as outdated, Russia’s Economic Development Ministry projected real incomes to reverse the five-year slump and grow by 1 percent this year. Efforts to raise Russians’ living standards are a cornerstone of President Vladimir Putin’s ambitious $390 billion spending program, presented last year.

The real income figures stagnated in early 2019 and have no prospects of picking back up this year, HSE and RANEPA economists said at a discussion organized by audit firm FBK Grant Thornton on Wednesday.

“We shouldn’t expect the population’s real disposable income to grow in 2019,” Igor Nikolayev, HSE professor and head of FBK’s strategic analysis institute, was quoted as saying.

“It’s a simple rule: if the economy isn’t growing, there’s no reason for incomes to increase,” said Vladimir Gimpelson, head of HSE’s center for labor market studies.

Meanwhile, poverty levels are expected to remain around 12.9 percent this year, RBC quoted Tatiana Maleva, head of RANEPA’s Institute for Social Analysis and Forecasting, as saying.

Alexei Kudrin, the head of Russia’s Audit Chamber who monitors Putin’s spending program, echoed the economists’ forecasts, saying on Wednesday that real incomes could stagnate or decline in 2019.