Household economic challenges grow as pandemic persists

Jordanians living below poverty line to increase by 27% — WB

Photo: Shutterstock, Source: Department of Statistics
AMMAN — Mohammad describes his financial status as “from bad to worse” after one year of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the fact that he classifies himself as a middle-class citizen.اضافة اعلان
The company that Mohammad (not his real name) works for has cut his salary for two months by almost 50 percent and he accepted this decision, hoping that the bad times will pass quickly. To his dismay, the crisis persisted and his employer lowered his salary again by 25 percent at the beginning of 2021.
Mohammad’s monthly salary is JD700 before deductions. He has to pay JD275 for the house rent, some JD130 as gas expenses for his vehicle and around JD100 during the cold season for heating.
It does not stop here, of course. Part of the remaining JD200 goes to pay utility bills, buy foodstuff, and cover the expenses of other basic needs.
Munir, also not his real name, is a public sector employee whose monthly salary is JD650. His conditions are not better than Mohammad’s. He said that despite the privilege of job security in the public sector, the rising prices of commodities are a real challenge.
The conditions of Muhammad and Munir are shared by thousands of households that suffer from economic pressures, with international estimates, mainly those issued by the World Bank, expecting the rates of poverty and extreme poverty to rise.
The World Bank (WB) has previously noted that the number of persons in Jordan who live below the extreme poverty line of JD1.3 per day (which is the international extreme poverty line) will go up by 27 percent during 2020.
The WB also anticipated the number of those living below JD2.25 per day in the Kingdom will increase by 19 percent in the same year, while the percentage of those living under the JD3.9 line per day is expected to rise by 13.2 percent.
Qassim Hammouri, a professor of economics at the Yarmouk University, stressed that the decline in the productivity of several sectors, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, has contributed to and will continue to send producers out of business, which will, consequently, contribute to a higher joblessness rate during the few coming months. In the first quarter this year, around 24 percent of Jordanians were without jobs, according to official figures.
The average of the annual expenditure of Jordanian households in 2017 on all commodities (foodstuff, non-food, and services), according to figures released by the Department of Statistics, was estimated at JD12,519, and the share of annual expenditure per capita stood at JD2,586. 
At a household level, families spend an annual of JD4,080 on food items and JD8,440 on non-food commodities and services, while individuals spend JD843 on foodstuff and JD1,743 on non-food items and services per year.