The CSO has just released the 2009 results of its annual Survey of Income and Living Conditions. SILC is the official source of data on household and individual income and also provides a number of key national poverty indicators, such as the at risk of poverty rate, the consistent poverty rate and rates of enforced deprivation. The accompanying press release highlights a number of the key findings.
The 2009 results showed a decrease in average gross household income of almost 7% between 2008 and 2009. This was attributable to a decline in average direct income of 12%, which was partially offset by an average increase in social transfers of 11% over the year.
There was no statistically significant change in the at risk of poverty rate which was 14.1% in 2009. The fact that there was a fall in income between 2008 and 2009, but no change in the risk of poverty rate, is indicative of the fact that the decline in income occurred right across the income distribution and the rates of decline were broadly similar. In fact, the calculated Gini coefficient in the report shows a steady decline (indicating greater equality) in the equivalised individual disposable income between 2006 and 2009.
The level of enforced deprivation increased by more than 25% between 2008 and 2009 with more than 17% of the population experiencing at least two forms of enforced deprivation in 2009. The increase in the level of enforced deprivation resulted in an increase in the consistent poverty rate from 4.2% in 2008 to 5.5% in 2009.
A rather striking finding is that almost a quarter of all households were in arrears with at least one bill or loan on at least one occasion in 2009. This compares with a figure of just over 10% in 2008. More than 11% of households stated that they had to go into debt in the twelve months prior to the date of interview to meet ordinary living expenses while almost 48% of households did not have the ability to meet an unexpected expense of approximately €1,000 without borrowing in 2009.
There is obviously a wealth of detailed information in this report, but one graphic stands out. Net incomes fell for households where the head of household was at work or engaged in home duties, but they increased for households where the head of household was unemployed, retired or not at work due to illness or disability.