The first official data of Rosstat of this year real disposable incomes have been waiting with great impatience. The fact that last year formed a paradoxical, and still not really explained the painting: the Russian economy started to grow, albeit very modestly, while real incomes (ie adjusted for the size of obligatory payments and inflation) people continued to fall month after month.
photo: Alex geldings
Many experts had hoped that in January of 2018 the negative trend will finally break and we will see at least a small increase in real incomes. All the preconditions for this existed.
First, from 1 January to all pensioners (and the expense of them goes into millions) indexed pensions by 3.7%. Secondly, in this year began the indexation of the salaries of some categories of state employees by 4%. All this, in theory, was supposed to result in a January increase in revenue recorded by Rosstat.
And that’s Federal statistical office released its data, but managed to present them so that one half of the news agencies gave the news under the headings “Income for the month fell two times”, and the other half wrote: “the Incomes of the population has finally stopped falling.” How can that be – we are talking about the same numbers?
It turns out that can. It is in mathematics two and two always make four, and in the statistics, the numbers are of course important, but more important is their interpretation.
So, Rosstat, estimated in January, the real incomes of Russians have announced that compared to the previous month — that is, by December 2017 – they fell by 49.7%, which gave rise to the first half of a headline: panic.
But comparing January data with the December simply incorrect, and to understand it does not have to be a professional statistician or economist. Everybody knows that due to the long new year holidays in January working days is almost two times less than in December. In addition, at December traditionally have the payment of annual bonuses and the thirteenth salaries and other financial incentives. So the fact that the January income below half of December — not news and not a reason to panic.
And to compare January income should be the same in January, but over the last year. And Rosstat also does it – but it’s not just about numbers. The fact is that in January 2017 occurred a lump sum payment of retirement compensation for the year 2016: on 5 thousand roubles on hands (in the whole country amounted to 240 billion virtually any).
Neither before nor after such large-scale benefits were not, and they are very sharply distorted the overall picture on income. Suffice it to say that in January of 2017 was recorded the growth rate of real income by as much as 8%. And it was the only time the monthly revenue growth since the autumn of 2014, when, in fact, began in the country’s economic crisis.
And now it’s time to compare the January 2018 with the “anomalous” Jan. What did Rosstat? It is suggested to compare the current level of income from January, but “cleaned” from those lump-sum pension payments. The result was zero: real disposable income, “January to January” has not changed – that gave rise to the appearance of the second half of the news headlines: optimistic.
Another question is how valid such is the arbitrary “clean” basis for comparison. After all, a year ago, Rosstat is not shy, and above 5 thousand of their calculations was not removed. On the contrary, is proud to report that the income growth (which, however, was limited to one month). So his actions today many independent experts is called “manipulation”. After all, if not to correct that last year’s data for comparison, it turns out that the real disposable income of population in January 2018 fell at an annual rate, according to various estimates, by 5-7%.
Why continue to decrease the income of people, despite the fact that the official average salary in the country grows and pensions are indexed is another issue. A clear answer is not given by either government officials or their opponents.
Labor Minister Maxim Topilin has recently proposed a rather exotic explanation of the phenomenon, which is that for the last time of the alleged millions of workers came out from the shadows, their white income pulled down the total amount.
There are other versions of what is happening — for example, very high degree of debt load of the Russian population, where a substantial part of its income is spent in “flow” – a mandatory repayment of various debts.
Anyway, we can state the sad fact: Russian population on the whole continues to Peter out, and its incomes do not stop his fall. Rostovskaya digital balancing act, of course, may confuse the picture, but to change it, alas not.