by S BIRRUNTHA / Pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
Household finances in Malaysia were generally weaker in the second quarter of 2022 (2Q22) than in 1Q22, according to Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER).
Its latest survey of Consumer Sentiments Index (CSI), revealed that 47% of its respondents did not see any change in their incomes in 2Q22, those who believed that their financial position has worsened lately have risen to a four-quarter high of 39%.
Better finances were reported by 14% of the respondents, down from 16% last quarter.
Meanwhile, the research firm also highlighted that financial expectations are at their worst in a year, as a four-quarter low of 17% of the respondents are hopeful that their incomes will improve soon, 43% foresee otherwise, the largest proportion tabulated since 1Q20.
“Another 32% believed that their finances will likely remain the same in the coming months, especially the middle-incomers and northerners.
“Most of those who are anticipating higher incomes soon are from the high-income bracket and east, while those expecting to be worse off financially in the next quarter are mostly from the low-income group and south,” it said.
On employment, MIER said more jobs were up for grabs in 2Q22, as claimed by 33% of the respondents, the highest proportion received in almost eight years.
It noted that positive responses were higher in all categories of income, region and location in 2Q222 compared to 1Q22, except the south and middle-income category.
MIER said consumers were giving thumbs down for job expectations as those who believed that employment opportunities will be more promising in the coming months shrank to 32% from 42% a quarter ago, another four-quarter low.
While 33% responded indifferently, 23% were relatively more worried that fewer job vacancies will be in store for them in the near term, up five percentage points on the quarter.
On inflation, MIER said worries over rising prices have surged higher this quarter and a clear majority of 94% of the respondents are anticipating prices to rise further in the next six months, the highest proportion conceived since the inception of this survey in 1988.
It added that compared to 1Q22, inflationary jitters in 2Q22 appeared to have spread to more households in all locations, income groups and regions without any exception.
“Inflation fears grip most consumers every quarter but they are clearly higher this time around due to the rising cost of living, ranging from transport to food.
“Higher interest rates and fat, or low, incomes have also likely triggered the more negative sentiments amongst consumers this quarter,” the research firm noted.