The Moscow Times reports:
The working week, like the winter days in this Siberian city, has become shorter since the global financial crisis paralyzed its heavy industry. Paychecks have been cut by a third or more.
Novokuznetsk’s half a million residents, over 60 percent of whom depend on the steel, coal and aluminum industries, dare not contemplate the alternative — mass layoffs — as they struggle to repay bank loans taken out in more prosperous times. “If nothing changes, we will come up against more serious consequences in February or March,” said Alla Semyonova, director of the city’s employment center. “People have not yet fully grasped what is happening here.”
Novokuznetsk, 3,000 kilometers and four time zones east of Moscow, was booming when demand for steel produced by its two giant mills reached record highs early this year. The sudden reversal in the world economy has hit hard.