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Russia registers jobless rate at 2.3% as of Aug. 1

MOSCOW, September 12 (RIA Novosti) - Some 1.7 million Russians, or 2.3% of the country's working-age population, were registered with unemployment agencies as of August 1, 2006, a senior labor official said Tuesday.

Yuri Gertsii, deputy head of the Federal Service for Labor and Employment, said the number of jobless Russians without official registration was 5.6 million, or 7.5% of the working-age population. Under the standards of the International Labor Organization, such people should also be classified as unemployed.

Speaking at a panel discussion on employment legislation in the parliament's lower house, the State Duma, Gertsii said an increasing number of jobless Russians chose to register these days and that more succeeded in finding work through unemployment agencies.

Thus, of the 6.5 million registered as unemployed in the past five years, more than 50% have been able to find new jobs, he said.

However, panelist Andrei Isayev, who chairs the State Duma Committee for Labor and Social Policy, said people in Russia were discouraged from registering with unemployment agencies because of low benefits, currently between 720 and 2,880 rubles ($27-$108). The minimum monthly wage is now 1,100 rubles ($40).

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