Labor Resources

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Labor Resources


the portion of a nation’s population possessing the physical development, knowledge, and practical experience necessary for work in the national economy. Labor resources include both persons currently employed and potential workers.

A socialist state, in contrast to a capitalist one, utilizes its labor resources on a planned basis, thereby ensuring full employment. The absence of unemployment is a major social achievement of the workers in the socialist states.

For planning and statistical purposes, labor resources in the USSR include the population of working age, that is, men 16–59 years of age and women 16–54 years of age; exceptions are made for nonworking disabled persons in the first and second groups and for persons receiving old-age pensions 5–10 years early, for example, persons who worked under hazardous conditions, persons who worked in certain fields of the arts, and mothers with four or more children. Labor resources also include men 60 years of age and older and women 55 years of age and older, as well as teen-agers under 16, employed in the state sector of the economy or in the socialized production of kolkhozes.

People of working age constitute by far the largest part of a nation’s labor resources. Of the people who are not of working age but who still figure in labor resources, more than four-fifths are men and women of pension age. Their participation in social production depends largely on the labor needs of the national economy and on the system of material incentives. Teen-age labor is used on kolkhozes and sovkhozes basically when the work load is heaviest.

Changes in labor resources depend on population changes, that is, on birthrates and death rates. Other conditions being equal, a rapid growth in labor resources corresponds to a rapid growth in population, and vice versa. However, changes in the birthrate are felt in the labor resources only after 16 years. The ratio of the number of people attaining working age to that reaching pension age also changes. For this reason, the percentage of the working-age population in the total population of the country has fluctuated. It was 52.1 in 1926, 53.6 in 1939, 57.4 in 1959, 54 in 1970, and 56.3 in 1975.

Breakdowns by age and sex are of great importance in describing labor resources. Table 1 lists the percentages of people in various age groups working in the public sector of the economy.

Table 1. People working in the public sector of the economy
Age groupPercentage
Under 20. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Under 40
20–29. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87
30–39. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .94
40–49. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .92
50–54. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80
55–59. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43
60 and over. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

In 1975 women predominated in the working-age population, a direct consequence of the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45. In 1959 the number of women 16–54 years of age exceeded the number of men 16–59 years of age by 9.6 million; in 1970 the figure was 2.5 million. Women constitute more than one-half of all employees.

Full employment is achieved by the continuous growth of social production, a condition which ensures that the demand for jobs is met.

The employment level of the population has risen. In 1960, 78 percent of the country’s labor resources either were in school or were employed in the public sector of the economy; in 1975, this was true of more than 90 percent.

The planned use of labor resources ensures that there will be a steady growth in labor productivity and that the labor needs of the economy will be met. The growth of labor productivity as a factor of socioeconomic development under present-day conditions is assuming particularly great significance. The modernization of production, the broadening and systematic improvement of vocational training for workers, and the redistribution of labor power between economic sectors and enterprises have moved to the forefront. Qualitative demands upon labor have also risen. While in 1939 only 123 workers out of every 1,000 had secondary and higher (complete or incomplete) education, the figure rose to 433 in 1959, 653 in 1970, and 751 in 1975. The training of highly skilled workers has rapidly expanded in the vocational-technical educational institutions, which provide secondary education in addition to vocational training.

In supplying the economy with labor power, the socialist state establishes manpower sources for staffing new enterprises, determines the scale of training for skilled workers and specialists (who are then assigned by the state to meet existing needs in the economy), and sees that movements of people from rural areas to cities and from one region to another occur in planned fashion.

The balance of labor resources is an important instrument for formulating labor plans.


Litviakov, P. P. Nauchnye osnovy ispol’zovaniia trudovykh resursov. Moscow, 1969.
Kostakov, V. G., and P. P. Litviakov. Balans truda, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1970.
Osnovnye problemy ratsional’nogo ispol’zovaniia trudovykh resursov v SSSR. Editor in chief, E. L. Manevich. Moscow, 1971.
Trudovye resursy i nauchno-tekhnicheskaia revoliutsiia. Edited by K. I. Mikul’skii. Moscow-Berlin, 1974.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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