Yes, there are unemployed in the Soviet Union--an estimated 2 million in Russia alone. After decades of official denials that Soviet joblessness exists, unemployment offices opened across the Russian Republic on July 1. A new Russian law allowing workers to register for unemployment benefits is a key step toward creating a social safety net that will be needed as the Soviet Union moves toward a market economy.
In Russia, economists predict, unemployment could grow to 12 million as enterprises lay off workers or go bankrupt. Jobless workers are entitled to a minimum of $73 monthly compensation for 12 months--about half the current average wage. But benefits can be cut for workers who turn down new job offers. Says Lydia Lezhova, director of a neighborhood unemployment office in Moscow: "Some jobs, like working as a mechanic, are considered not prestigious, even in the Soviet Union."