Tuesday 21 January 2020

Ailish O’Hora: ESRI shows the true impact of recession on coping classes

AS a fully paid up member of the coping classes, I welcome the latest ESRI report which shows that essentially that those in their 40s, and under, are bearing the brunt of the recession.

Not that this will change anything anytime soon but there is something cathartic about it.

A realisation that what many of us already know– high unemployment, mortgage arrears and negative equity – may now be somewhat more accepted in wider society.

According to the ESRI, the impact on those in their 20s, 30s and 40s has been “disproportionate.”

And don’t we know it.

A lot of us are lucky to still have jobs but face the other issues highlighted in the report such as negative equity and the massive mortgages that go with it.

As the report highlights, for households under the age of 45, any spare cash there is gets saved as a “buffer” to cope with higher taxes and any further squeeze on incomes.

At risk of sounding like a more modern day 45-year-old  Peig, gone already are the foreign holidays, the dinners/nights out with friends – they are now cherished, rare occasions.

One of the biggest drags is the feeling that this recessionary circle we find ourselves in is a vicious one.

In time, the recession will run its course, these things are cyclical, but sometimes it’s difficult to see that bit of light at the end of the tunnel, despite some green shoots.

Its not all that bad – most of us have great parents, siblings, kids, nieces/nephews that keep us going as well as strong friendships.

Having a tracker mortgage also helps.

But there’s a bigger picture here.

Lots of people have it much worse, with unemployment running at 14pc and the number of those out of work long-term extremely concerning – as highlighted in the last troika report.

There has been much talk recently about Ireland emerging from the bailout programme as if it is some “best in the class” badge.

Emerging prematurely would be very dangerous – and the results of the upcoming bank stress tests will no doubt be very telling.

We do not have a healthy banking systems and the report should be a wake-up call for those who seem to be convinced that we can go it alone.

We also need to fight the fight in Europe for a deal on the historic bank debt – we need a break from austerity.

And while that seems to be becoming a bit more widely accepted in Europe, our German paymaster, with Angela Merkel facing election soon, is still not convinced.

One other thing about the ESRI report – and actually it’s more of a sting.

At 45, I’m not sure I even qualify as “young anymore.” Ouch.......

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