A section of society labelled the “squeezed middle-aged” has emerged as coming under severe financial pressure from the cost-of-living crisis.
These are people who are middle-income and middle aged with huge outgoings.
They are paying high costs for mortgages, childcare and energy and are being forced to make large spending adjustments to cope with surging prices, according to the latest consumer sentiment index from KBC Bank Ireland.
The squeezed middle-aged referred to people in their late 30s, 40s and 50s, KBC economist Austin Hughes said.
“This group may be facing the greatest shock from the increased cost of living because they have a lot of fixed outgoings related to children and mortgages, limited power to change jobs and are, in many instances, seeing a big worsening in their living standards,” he added.
A special question asked by the compilers of the index on how people are adjusting to record levels of inflation found almost all consumers are suffering from cost pressures.
Only 5pc of people told surveyors they do not need to adjust spending, while 9pc said they cannot make further changes.
Around 59pc of respondents are cutting back on non-essentials, while 37pc said they were being forced to pare back on necessities such as food and energy.
Large numbers said they were shopping around more, with switching between providers now common. But Mr Hughes added that the survey showed that the greatest shock and related adjustment to cost-of-living pressures was falling on what he called the “squeezed middle-aged”.
“This grouping would tend to have a relatively large number of fixed outlays, often related to spending associated with child dependants and housing and other mid-life costs,” Mr Hughes he said.
The survey found responses from the over-65s indicate that they are not displaying pressure points evident in some other age groups.