Economic and demographic situation
The country’s population is relatively stable (about 9 and a half million people), but the main threat in the Belarusian regions is the loss of the economically active population. In the future this may result in a crisis in some regions: they will face human resources shortages that will affect the sustainability of the socio-economic development.
According to the latest data, Belarus’ population was 9 462.4 thousand and in January 2013 decreased by 1.4 thousand. In January 2013, 10 266 children were born, which is 1,527 more than in January 2012; 12,491 people died (1,126 more than in 2012). The natural loss of population was 2,225. Migration gain in January 2013 compared to the same period in 2012 increased by 28.3% to 820 persons. Positive net migration has reduced the natural population decrease by 36.9% (January 2012 by 24.3%).
In January 2013 all Belarusian regions suffered depopulation:
Vitebsk region by 700 people;
Mogilev region by up to 600 people;
Minsk region by 500 people;
Grodno region by up to 300;
Brest region by up to 300;
Gomel region by 500 people.
Only in Minsk city the population increased by 1 500 in January 2013.
Ministry of Economy’s report on the development of the economic and demographic situation in the country, says that the population of Belarus’ rural areas by 2032 will be reduced by 500 thousand people. According to the forecast, the number of districts having a critical number of economically active residents to maintain the sustainable socio-economic development of the area (which is 15-20 thousand people) could increase from 51 regions (currently) to 77 by 2032, i.e. covering more than 60% of the country. According to the forecast, particularly serious demographic losses may be incurred in the Vitebsk and Grodno regions.
At the same time, the growth of the urban population, which is observed in the country, does not increase the economic and demographic security. Along with the urban population growth, the number those employed in the economy, decreases. For example, the population of Gomel reached at the beginning of 2013 almost 515,000 people (increase by almost 7000 persons). During the same period, the number of those employed in the economy had decreased by the same amount, the unemployment level remained unchanged. In the Gomel region, the population decreased by less than 0.2 percent and the employment in the economy fell by almost 3 percent. This situation is explained by the hidden labor migration. Belarusians, who leave the country for temporary jobs, retain registration. This explains the discrepancy between the natural population loss and a decrease in the economically active citizens.
In the medium term, the government will be forced to find a replacement workforce and actively encourage foreign nationals to work in Belarus. There are already examples of Chinese industrial communities in small towns in Belarus.