Friday, October 7, 2022

The Household Sector in 2022: Continued Savings

The CSO have published the Q2 2022 update of the institutional sector accounts.  They continue to show a strong performance for the household sector – at least in aggregate terms.  A previous discussion of estimates for distributional sector accounts is here.

It should also be noted that the figures are presented in nominal terms, i.e., not inflation adjusted. Here is the current account showing income, consumption and savings for the first half of the past five years.  Percentage changes relative to 2019 (pre-COVID) are also shown.

Household Sector Current Account 2018-2022 H1

The bottom line is that the household savings rate remains elevated.  The savings rate was 13 per cent for the first half of 2019; it was 24 per cent for the equivalent period of 2022.  This is the result of strong income growth (aggregate compensation of employees is up over 20 per cent since 2019) and modest consumption expenditure growth (up five per cent over the same period).

In the first six months of 2019, households received €50.0 billion of employee compensation.  This increased to €60.6 billion in the first half of 2022.  There was an increase in pay from all sectors but the largest, and fastest increase was from non-financial corporates.  Companies to the first half of 2019, businesses paid out €7.4 billion more on their employees, an increase of 23.1 per cent.

The increase in income has resulted in an increase in income taxes paid.  These are up 36 per cent compared to 2019.  Social insurance contributions are also up with contributions to private pension schemes up nearly 40 per cent (from €3.5 billion in the first half of 2019 to €4.8 billion this year).

The last few years has seen significant changes in social benefits received from the government sector.  These were €11.8 billion in the first half of 2019 and rose to €15.1 billion in 2020 (due the lockdowns and the Pandemic Unemployment Payment).  They rose to €15.9 billion in 2021 before falling back to €13.3 billion in the first half of this year.

All told, there was a near 20 per cent rise in the gross disposable income of the household sector in the first half of 2022 compared to the same period of 2019.  As noted, the increase in consumption expenditure has been more muted with only a five per cent rise over the same period.

The household sector had €7.4 billion of gross savings in the first half of 2019.  Although 2022 saw a slightly lower level than both 2020 and 2021, at €16.1 billion it remains significantly higher than pre-COVID levels with the savings rate continuing to exceed 20 per cent.

The capital account (below) shows that these savings are not being used for capital formation (investment spending) though the household sector did have just over €1 billion of net capital formation in the first half of 2022.  This compares to negative net capital formation in the equivalent periods of the preceding three years (as depreciation – consumption of fixed capital – exceeded gross capital formation).

Household Sector Capital Account 2018-2022 H1

One notable item in the capital account is the €3 billion of investment grants received in 2022.  This is linked to the Mica Redress Scheme which was approved by Government earlier in the year.

The household sector remained a significant net lender in 2022.  Other figures suggest that most of this is going on increased deposits (though the €3 billion from the Mica Scheme will go on the financial balance sheet as an “other receivable”.  There will also have been a reduction in loans liabilities.  What is needed is an increase in capital formation – new houses.

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