Higher average earnings per worker and more people in work drove up incomes in Quarter 2 (Q2) 2022.
Spending also rose in the quarter, due to higher prices but also higher volumes of goods and services consumed.
For households collectively, disposable income rose faster than consumer prices, although this was not the case for every household.
Before the pandemic, households saved around 10% of their total disposable income, with consumer spending making up the other 90%.
In the first half of 2022, consumption accounted for only 80% of income, with the remainder being added to wealth.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today (09 September 2022) released Household Saving Q2 2022.
Commenting on the results, Peter Culhane, Statistician, said:
"Household savings at 19% again this quarter, remain above their pre-COVID-19 level. We are seeing a continual increase in real incomes, as more people are in work and the average wage is going up. Spending also rose in the quarter, not only due to higher prices, but also because a greater volume of goods and services were bought or consumed.
Before the pandemic, consumer spending was rising in line with incomes, leaving saving at a steady rate. The usual pattern of household spending and saving was disrupted by COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021. By the second quarter of 2022, the pandemic restrictions had been removed, but the household saving rate remained far above its usual level. While the 19% rate this quarter is far below the 33% peak in 2020, it is significantly higher than its long-term average of 10.4% before the pandemic. The savings habits developed during the restrictions appear to be sticking. It might have been expected that with restrictions removed, some of the saving built up over the previous two years would be spent, bringing down the saving rate, but in fact, households continued to accumulate rather than spend. Consumption is increasing, owing to inflation and also to higher volumes of goods and services consumed. However, households have generally decided not to spend their lockdown savings, but rather to keep their money in the bank.
The high level of saving may be 'precautionary' as global economic uncertainty affects spending decisions. It may also be caused by shortages of goods (such as cars) owing to supply chain disruption related to the pandemic. Finally, it is possible that household saving levels will remain elevated: 19.1% is a high saving rate for Ireland but is in line with some other European countries. In Germany the saving rate for the period 2010-2019 was 17.5% and in Switzerland it was 22.0%.“
Incomes of households rose in the second quarter of the year. Overall household income is driven by pay to workers and the combination of higher average pay per hour and more people in work drove up wages and salaries. The wage bill increased across almost all sectors. Growth was highest in Distribution, Transport, Hotels & Restaurants, which was up €213m or 3.9% in the quarter. This sector had an increase in numbers employed, but also an increase in average earnings in the quarter. There was also significant growth in the pay to workers in Industry; and Professional, Admin & Support Services.
|sector||Change (Seasonally Adjusted) since Q1-2022|
|Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing||0.115711260115063|
|Industry (excl. Construction)||127.184688813673|
|Distribution, Transport, Hotels and Restaurants||213.233495728928|
|Information and Communication||96.5609427832082|
|Financial and Insurance Activities||-10.3338759112116|
|Real Estate Activities||8.60951102391221|
|Professional, Admin and Support Services||125.212263328652|
|Public Admin, Education and Health||88.799945102719|
|Arts, Entertainment and Other Services||30.3737364368667|
There was a slight rise in spending in the quarter (after usual seasonal fluctuations were taken into account): this increase was due to price inflation, as well as larger volumes of goods and services being consumed.
In June, the Consumer Price Index showed a 3-month rise of 3.2%. The largest contributors to this increase in the cost of living were products that all households need: Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas & Other Fuels; and Transport.
After allowing for these price increases and seasonal factors, household consumption rose 1.8% in April-June, as the Quarterly National Accounts show. The Retail Sales Index shows the biggest volume increases in: Cars; Food; and Pharmaceutical, Medical & Cosmetic Articles. On the other hand, the volume of Furniture & Lighting sales was down significantly in the period.
The trends in prices (Consumer Price Index) and incomes (Household Total Disposable Income, TDI) are shown in Figure 3. Since the start of 2020, both have been rising. TDI is shown unadjusted, and its seasonality is apparent from Figure 3. It is also clear that inflation is accelerating. The graph shows that although prices have risen, income has risen even faster. At the end of June this year household income is higher than it was before the pandemic in real terms. This TDI includes a wide range of changes, positive and negative, across the two million households in the country.
The saving of households was added to wealth which is held in various kinds of assets. Investment in homes (new dwellings and improvements) was €2.2bn in the quarter (although part of this came from government and corporations, most is from households). A significant proportion of the saving was left in banks: deposits from households increased by €2.3 billion in the quarter. Central Bank of Ireland data also shows some saving went to paying off debts: lending to Irish households decreased by €0.4bn in the quarter (that is, repayments of principal exceeded new draw-downs).