Many migrants work in informal contexts so that only estimates can be provided on the actual number of people. According to a 2017 study from the University of Central Asia, about three quarters of the migrants in Russia work in the sectors of trade and retailing, gastronomy, and construction. The reasons for labour migration are low salaries and unemployment in Kyrgyzstan. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), current average monthly earnings of employees are 14,217 Som (USD 205) in Kyrgyzstan, compared to 38,609 Rubles (USD 588) in Russia and 163,725 Tenge (USD 450) in Kazakhstan.

Migration is also an issue within Kyrgyzstan, since more and more people are moving to the capital, Bishkek, and to a lesser extent to Osh, the second largest city. This migration adds to the lack of labour for rural households. While migration to Russia and other countries is associated with an inflow of money into Kyrgyzstan, migration inside the country mostly involves an exchange of money and food.