The value of wages is falling, and the people with low incomes are bearing the brunt. It’s not only them; the lower-middle class, who typically didn’t resort to food banks, are increasingly turning to these institutions for help, according to Alena Zieglerová from the Institute for Social Inclusion.
While the average wage has nominally increased again, its actual value, that is, what can be purchased for it, has fallen by almost one percent. This represents the most prolonged decline of real wages in recent history, profoundly impacting those with low incomes. All the strategies they have used so far are suddenly no longer working.
Since the early nineties, there has not been a crisis that has been so heavily dependent on inflation. People couldn’t save money on food because prices were rising, and at the same time, energy prices and housing costs also increased.
Furthermore, people tend to take a part-time job when money is short. However, the conditions for such agreement-based work are set to change next year, albeit not significantly in many respects. This has caused panic in the labor market, resulting in a cooled interest from employers towards contract workers. This represents another blow, the main impact of which is yet to come.
Increasingly, people are discovering services and benefits they never thought they would need. For example, food banks were previously not something that affected the lower-middle class. Yet, nowadays, they go there almost disguised so that no one recognizes and sees them because they are ashamed. This situation has changed over the last year and a half. Many parents of small children have said they need to put aside their shame because the children need to eat. Hence, the significance and almost normality of food banks have grown.
Finally, there was an increased interest in debt counseling. Even those who were previously proud to make a living are now interested in it. They now have two or three jobs and find it useless to them because this crisis is long and deep.