• Friday, June 21, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

More people express dissatisfaction with their lives, data shows

‘More people are not working in the country due to long-term sickness’

Representational image (iStock)

By: Pramod Thomas

THE proportion of people expressing dissatisfaction with their lives in the UK has increased to 5.8 per cent in the five years to October to December 2023, new data revealed on Thursday (9).

More people are not working in the country due to long-term sickness, with 22.2 per cent of 16- to 64-year-olds inactive over the last quarter and year to December 2023 to February 2024, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) report said.

It added that one in 17 people are ‘unhappy’ mainly due to employment status and self-reported health issues.

Also, almost one in four people (23.5 per cent) have said they have high levels of anxiety, up from 20 per cent five years ago. The percentage was 25.2 during the pandemic.

According to the Measuring progress, well-being and beyond GDP in the UK report, adults are dedicating less daily time, on average, to entertainment, socialising, and other leisure activities in March 2024, in contrast to four years prior.

The ONS data revealed that 74.5 per cent of adults were employed in the three months leading up to February 2024, marking a decrease from the same period a year prior.

Additionally, 82 per cent of surveyed adults stated they did not seek employment for reasons such as being a student, experiencing long-term sickness, or fulfilling care giving responsibilities for family or home.

The rise in the inactivity rate was primarily attributed to both the aging population and the increasing prevalence of health conditions that limit work capacity. However, the latter factor had a greater impact.

Statistics reveal that the amount of time adults spend on leisure activities has steadily declined in recent years as the country adjusts to living with Covid-19, while time spent traveling and working has increased.

In March 2024, adults spent an average of three hours and 42 minutes daily on entertainment, socializing, and other free-time activities. This is 48.3 minutes lower than in March to April 2020.

According to the ONS, factors such as the welfare of family members, physical and mental health, and personal financial situations were found to be major contributors to a person’s well-being, as revealed in a survey.

However, the increase in inflation, which rose by 3.8 per cent in the 12 months leading up to March 2024, has put pressure on household finances.

As many as 21.8 per cent of people, particularly those aged below 65 years, reported finding it fairly difficult or very difficult to manage financially at present.

The latest data indicates that annual growth in regular earnings and total earnings was 6 percent and 5.6 per cent, respectively.

However, when accounting for inflation, real income rose by 1.9 per cent for regular pay and 1.6 per cent for total pay.

“There are signs that the pressure on living standards since the coronavirus pandemic had actually started before the pandemic and gross inclusive income peaked in 2017 and did not grow again until 2021,” the report said.

A survey conducted last month revealed that 61 per cent of adults view climate change and environmental concerns as significant issues for the country.

In 2022, 1.1 million fewer people experienced health benefits from nature compared to 2020 because they either visited less frequently or for shorter durations, the report added.

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