Belarusian economy is unlikely to create enough jobs for all laid off workers in 2017
In 2016, 91000 people were laid off in Belarus, which is 1.5 times more than in 2015. The crisis in the economy led to layoffs in trade, construction and industry. The Belarusian economy is unable to create more jobs in the near future and those laid off are likely to join the grey market or look for jobs abroad.
According to the National Statistics Committee, in January - September 2016, 468 400 people were hired and 559 400 - laid off, meaning, that 91 000 people have lost jobs, which is 1.5 times more compared with 2015. Most layoffs were reported in industry, construction, wholesale and retail trade. Amid wage cuts, only two Belarusian regions reported more hires as compared with layoffs.
Partially, layoffs were due to natural demographic processes - those approaching the retirement age by 35 000 people pierced potential new employees in early 2016. However, the bulk of cuts in the economy were due to the growing economic crisis in Belarus. Retailers have faced with falling turnover and had to adjust their regional policy, abandoning loss-making facilities and activities. The construction sector was unable to find workload for workers amid a decline in the housing construction and a decline in investment in industrial fixed assets. Industry is attempting to optimise costs amid increasing competition, both on foreign and domestic markets, by laying off workers and redistributing responsibilities among the remaining employees.
In 2016, the budget sector stopped generating new jobs due to budget cuts. The IT sector is actively hiring, however, it is unable to provide jobs to all laid off workers due to the need to retrain them. The state-owned enterprises will be subject to audit to determine their real financial health, which may lead to a new wave of layoffs.
In the given circumstances, only foreign investment in various economic sectors could generate new jobs for the excess workforce. However, the investment climate in Belarus is unfavourable for foreign investors, there are no guarantees for the inviolability of private property and the government may suspend operations of any successful business at any time. The state will not make efforts to change and improve the business climate, therefore the excess workforce is likely to look for jobs abroad or join the grey economic sector.
Overall, mass layoffs in Belarus are the result of the ongoing recession. While looking for jobs, Belarusians are likely to consider the option of changing the country of residence or work out of sight of the authorities.
According to Belstat, in August 7,600 people were dismissed, including 4,800 civil servants. Dismissals of civil servants were due to the optimisation in the public administration by up to 30%. Some civil servants would retain their job however would lose the status of a civil servant. Vacancies on the labour market are likely to reduce in number, thanks to the optimisation, the state administration would increase wages for public servants. The payroll fund for retained employees is likely to increase and some former state employees are likely to get jobs in affiliated organizations. The optimisation of the state apparatus should complete by January 1st, 2018, and some former civil servants are likely to join the ranks of the unemployed.