Despite the constant “income growth”, in eight years they fell by 10%
On July 28, looking at the night, Rosstat stunned the Russians with the news. It turns out that we have become a better life, and not only more fun. In the second quarter of this year, our real disposable income turns out to be up 6.8% compared to the second quarter of last year!
Second quarter of last year? But this is a lockdown. Of course, compared to the time when employers cut their wages under the same workload, others were sent on unpaid leave, and still others lost their jobs and went on benefits, now everything looks more pokuchery. The economy is recovering at the very least, even at the height of the increase in the incidence of coronavirus and with the terrifying mortality rate from it, there were no all-Russian lockdowns, and there were no regional lockdowns. Someone’s salaries have increased, and even decently – there are not a lot of such around, although there certainly are. But for SUCH income growth in real terms? Yes, with inflation announced by the same Rosstat in the first half of the year at 6.5%?
True, compared to the first half of 2020, the growth in real disposable income per capita averaged not 6.8%, but “only” 1.7% … But still, growth! “I don’t understand anything!” – said the hero of the famous cartoon in similar situations.
Let’s try to figure it out.
First, let’s remember what the indicator is – real disposable income per capita. It means that the monetary incomes of all Russians (salaries, pensions, social benefits, income from entrepreneurial activities and other cash receipts with a conditional adjustment for unrecorded incomes) are taken, minus mandatory fees such as taxes, are divided by the number of these Russians and then adjusted for the inflation rate … This indicator is calculated as a percentage of the previous period and clearly demonstrates whether citizens have become richer or poorer on average. On average, it’s important to remember …
So, Rosstat assures that, on average, we are now richer than we were a year earlier. But somehow it does not seem at all that we can buy now with salaries and pensions more than a year earlier. Are numbers, pleasant to the ear, the result of balancing act?
“This is not balancing act, but statistics, and people’s feelings often do not coincide with it. Last year, the first half of the year was terrible, real incomes sagged, now they are recovering, ”economist Yevgeny Gontmakher told MK. At the same time, “inflationary expectations are high, studies show that Russians expect a double-digit rise in prices,” he recalls, and suggests not making far-reaching conclusions and waiting for what will happen at the end of the year. Moreover, “there are, of course, industries where everything is fine, but the same Rosstat records a decline in pensions in real terms for the second quarter in a row.”
In turn, economist Alexander Safonov (Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation), in a conversation with MK, suggested that since almost all other factors play in favor of reducing real incomes, “only social policy could affect their growth, the application of new rules for providing assistance to poor families, whose incomes are brought to the level of the subsistence level in the region ”. Indeed, in the first half of 2021, compared to the first half of 2020, the share of Russians with incomes less than 19 thousand rubles per month decreased from 20.1% to 19.1%. And now less than 7 thousand rubles a month is 3.5%, from 7 to 10 thousand rubles – 5.7%, from 10 to 14 thousand rubles – 9.9%.
Almost a fifth of the population, it turns out, are beggars and poor. It is worth remembering that the cost of living, the official poverty line, is set by the government for 2021 at 11,653 rubles per month. And the minimum wage for full-time and full-time work is 12,792 rubles per month. At the same time, social stratification continues to grow: according to preliminary data from Rosstat, 10% of the wealthiest population now have more cash incomes than a year earlier (29.5% versus 28.9%) …
And one more thing: even taking into account the unexpected growth for many, real money incomes of the population are now 0.8% lower than they were in the first half of the pre-2019 year. And the level of 2013, the last year when real incomes of Russians grew, remains generally unattainable.
2013 drew a line under a period of economic growth, high oil prices, a low dollar against the ruble, a period when conditions for the development of small and medium-sized businesses were “relatively favorable,” Mr. Safonov recalled. And then there was 2014, the crisis, oil prices went down, and the dollar rate went up, Crimea, Donbass, sanctions, counter-sanctions, budget savings … “As a result, we got a systemic crisis in all directions, which was then superimposed on the 2018 crisis, and then a pandemic, ”says the economist. In his opinion, “if unpleasant surprises,“ black swans ”do not happen in the near future, then gradually we will drift towards the level of income in 2013, but it is impossible to predict for sure when we reach them”.
“Since 2013, real incomes have fallen by more than 10%, and this is the beginning of the pandemic. By the end of 2020–2021, apparently, there will be zero growth, but how it will go further is difficult to say, ”says Mr. Gontmakher. According to him, since the prospects are not clear, “people perceive what is happening moderately pessimistic, there is no panic, but no one is expecting anything particularly good either.”
In general, we live as we have always lived.
We are not happy that our income has become much better, but that everything is no worse than it was and what it could have been.
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