There were mixed messages this week on the findings of an Irish League of Credit Unions survey on people’s disposable income after all their bills have been paid.
The report suggested that the financial position of people is improving.
And yet the amount of money left for discretionary spending is still very small.
Over twelve months ago as many as 602,000 people said they had nothing left at the end of the month once bills were paid.
That figure is now down to 493,000.
But that’s nearly half a million adults with no disposable income.
And as many as 1.18 million adults say they have €50 or less to spend once their bills have been paid. And others are cutting back on health and life insurance to ensure that their utility bills and mortgages are paid.
They are stark figures in 21st century Ireland and a reality check on how austerity is hitting so many people.
They are figures that must concern the government. Life cannot be just about paying bills while a drop in spending power will have a significant impact on the retail sector and jobs.
It is a vicious circle that will be hugely difficult to break.