This is shown by the “This is how we feel today” survey conducted by Statistics Austria on the consequences of the social crisis in the second quarter of 2023. However, compared to the previous year, fewer people said that their income had decreased. Social Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) sees the situation easing despite high inflation. While in the second quarter of 2022 37 percent said their income had decreased in the last twelve months, this is now 32 percent of the total of 3,300 respondents between the ages of 18 and 74. This is a trend that is continuing, commented Statistics Austria General Director Tobias Thomas in a press release. Inflation continues to be the main reason for income losses. At the same time, 23 percent reported an increase in their household income in the last twelve months.
“Even if high inflation remains a challenge for many people: Overall, the social situation is easing,” Social Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) was quoted as saying in a press release. He sees the results of the survey financed by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Eurostat as “confirmation that the government’s measures are working.” Reliable support will also be ensured next year, the minister pointed out, for example, the valorization of family and social benefits and the additional monthly 60 euros per child for families at risk of poverty.
Thomas emphasized that 17 percent of people still find it difficult to make ends meet. However, the share remained almost unchanged compared to the previous quarter and year. These difficulties were particularly felt by people with low household incomes (44 percent) and people from households affected by unemployment (42 percent). The situation for single parents has worsened: in the first quarter of 2023, 30 percent of people in single-parent households had difficulties getting by on their income, and in the second quarter, 37 percent.
60 percent expect things to get worse
Coping with unexpected expenses amounting to the at-risk-of-poverty threshold of 1,370 euros was a problem for 28 percent of those surveyed; the value remained unchanged compared to the previous year. Housing costs continue to represent a significant financial burden. For 22 percent, these are a major financial challenge, compared to 18 percent in the previous year. 46 percent want to reduce their spending on larger purchases. 41 percent want to spend the same amount on larger purchases, 14 percent want to spend more.
When it comes to the Austrian economic situation, those surveyed remained pessimistic – 60 percent expect it to worsen. However, this represents an improvement, as the value last year was still 80 percent. However, 10 percent were optimistic.
The trade union-affiliated Momentum Institute looks at the data critically. Since the start of the inflation crisis at the end of 2021, the proportion of people for whom a significant portion of the essentials are unaffordable has increased by 80 percent, according to the Statistics Austria survey. For example, the proportion of those who cannot keep their homes adequately warm has increased by 80 percent to 710,000 people compared to the end of 2021. More than half a million people could not afford a main course every day. “Fighting poverty must urgently be on the political agenda,” emphasized Momentum economist Sophie Achleitner. The institute recommends raising all social benefits above the at-risk-of-poverty threshold. Basic child support and free, comprehensive childcare services are also helpful.