CAIRO: Egyptians join consumers around the region in expressing optimism over the future of their economy, according to a recent survey.
The survey, which was conducted by YouGov and Bayt.com, illustrated the long held argument that Egypt suffered less in the global economic crisis than developed economies.
Around 48 percent of Egyptians surveyed said they expected business conditions to improve, while 40 percent said they thought Egypt’s overall economic wellbeing would be better a year from now.
Most stunning, though, was that 34 percent of Egyptians thought they were in the same financial state as they were a year ago. That means that fully one-third of Egyptians feel that the economic crisis, which many say is the worst since the Great Depression, didn’t deteriorate their financial situation as it wore on over the past 12 months.
In the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) the surveyors put together every year, Egypt improved by 7.7 points from May of this year, making it one of the most improved countries in the region.
“While we are not seeing massive jumps up the index, the data shows that there are steady improvements, which reflects what is being reported and felt in economies around the region – namely that things are starting to pick up, said Bayt.com Regional Manager Amer Zureikat.
Kuwait’s standing on the CCI improved the most – 10 points – while Qatar and the UAE also beat out Egypt. Egypt, though, was the most improved of any non-Gulf country in the region. Lebanon was the only country to post a decline in consumer confidence over the past five months, sliding 0.7 percent.
“Improvements in the index have been seen in countries in the Middle East for around six months now, so the real test as to whether consumer confidence is being sustained and improved as a result of the easing of the recession will become evident over the next year or so, said Zureikat.
The survey asked respondents a number of questions, designed to get at the region’s economic footing and consumer confidence.
Interestingly, Egyptians’ satisfaction with their income levels ranked well in the region. 46 percent of Egyptians said they were either highly satisfied or neutral about their income level. Despite being a low-income developing economy, Egypt had greater satisfaction than the UAE, for example, where 45 percent responded the same way.
Egypt also ranked well in terms of career prospects, with only 26 percent of respondents saying they had a negative view of them. By contrast, 35 percent of Bahrainis said they have a negative outlook for their career.
Egypt, though, ranked at the very pessimistic end when respondents were asked about their outlook for the job market. Only 23 percent said they thought Egypt’s employment opportunities would improve in a year. Only Lebanon, at 18 percent, proved more pessimistic.
“In general, the employee confidence index shows that employees feel that their respective labor markets are picking up, with the exception of Lebanon and Algeria, said Joanna Longworth, YouGov’s Chief Marketing Officer.
“This suggests that recessionary pressures are still being played out in those economies. This data, coupled with ongoing news reports of the global economic downturn coming to an end, suggest that conditions are already better for employees in general, she said.
Whether Egypt’s robust improvement, generally, represents a real shift in the marketplace or just hopeful thinking is unknown. What is clear, though, is that this survey indicates the region as a whole feels as though it’s turned a corner. The Gulf states have bottomed out, while the developing countries were never really hit hard.
Despite this attitude, employment issues remain Egypt’s number one concern.