Russia’s State Statistical Office (Goskomstat) in mid-January released data on sectoral economic trends in Russia’s eighty-nine sub-federal regions (oblasts, krais, republics) in 2000 (Sotsial’no-Ekonomicheskoye Polozhenie Rossii, 2000). Methodologically, these data are less reliable than the sectoral figures reported for Russia as a whole, in part because (unlike the national figures) the regional data do not try to account for the size of the informal sector outside of industry. These data nonetheless paint a broad picture of regional economic trends.
Among other things, these figures indicate that Russia’s economic recovery broadened considerably, in geographical terms, in 2000. Only one of Russia’s eighty-nine regions reported declining industrial output in 1999. None did so in 2000. And while nearly all regions reported declines in retail sales in 1999, only ten did in 2000. These trends are quite consistent with the national economic data, which show industrial output and retail sales growing 9 percent last year. But these data also show some surprises. When aggregated to point to trends in Russia’s seven federal districts, these figures indicate that the Ural and Southern districts were Russia’s fastest-growing macroregions in 2000, albeit for very different reasons.
The Ural district contains only four federation subjects, and three of these–Tyumen, Sverdlovsk and Chelyabinsk–are Russia’s industrial powerhouses. Thanks to its abundant oil and gas reserves, Tyumen alone accounted for 9 percent of Russia’s industrial output in 2000. This was more than the industrial output of Moscow City and Moscow Oblast combined. Despite accounting for only 9 percent of its population, the Ural district produced 16 percent of Russia’s industrial output. Steel output was reported up 19 percent last year in this district, while tractor production surged 35 percent. Thanks in part to this industrial boom, the Urals continue to be Russia’s wealthiest district. The US$142 average monthly wage reported for the district in November was some 60 percent above the national average. Only 20 percent of this sum was required to purchase Goskomstat’s standard basket of 25 basic consumer goods, compared to a national average of 30 percent.
SOUTHERN DISTRICT REMAINS RUSSIA’S POOREST, AND ITS FASTEST GROWING.