BEIRUT — A preliminary report of survey results collected by researchers at the American University of Beirut shows the dire economic straits facing Lebanese families in detail. The survey collected information from households that have an adult citizen family member working in one of seven sectors of the economy.
Here’s what we know:
• The survey of a total of 931 households — distributed across the sectors of agriculture, construction, education, food and beverage, health care, manufacturing and retail — was administered during the second half of March 2022.
• A majority of households with members working in the seven sectors reported a monthly income below LL5 million per month (approximately $170 at the current parallel market rate). The proportion ranged from 53 percent of households of health care workers earning less than LL5 million to 77 percent of households of agriculture workers earning less than that amount.
• Relatively few people reported receiving more than LL10 million per month (approximately $341 at the current parallel market rate). While 18 percent of households of health care workers and 12 percent of households of manufacturing workers reported income at or above this level, just 6 percent of households of construction workers and 5 percent of households of education workers received this amount.
• The survey also revealed far fewer households have access to fresh dollars than is commonly supposed in media coverage of remittances and dollarization. Whether from remittances, fresh dollar savings or the salaries of anyone in the household, fewer than 20 percent of households with a member working in any of the sectors have any access to fresh dollars, with the exception of households with a member who works in health care, where 27 percent have access to fresh dollars.
• The health care sector appears to be leading the way in transitioning salaries from lira to fresh USD, with 19 percent of healthcare workers reporting at least a portion of their salaries being in US dollars.
• The survey also addressed coping strategies, with majorities of respondents saying they have tried to survive the economic downturn through means as diverse as changing their diet, skipping meals, postponing doctors’ appointments, reducing use of hot water, reducing use of a vehicle, spending out of savings and withdrawing from education.