Most Pakistanis believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction, according to a consumer confidence survey conducted in November by Ipsos, a Paris-based market research and consulting firm.
The survey, which included the participation of 1,110 male and female respondents above the age of 18 from across the country, concluded that 87 per cent of them were of the opinion that Pakistan was moving in the wrong direction — a sharp increase from 66pc participants who believed so in the September 2021 survey and the highest ever since August 2019.
Based on these reading, "the public sentiment about [the] overall direction of the country has hit its lowest ever," the survey report stated.
Inflation — the most worrying problem
The survey also found inflation to be the "most worrying issue for Pakistanis".
As many as 43pc of the respondents rated the increase in inflation as the most worrying issue, 17pc more since the September 2021 survey.
Fourteen per cent of them said unemployment was the most worrying problem, followed by 12pc expressing worry over increasing poverty and eight per cent deeming the coronavirus pandemic as the most worrying issue. Just five per cent were of the view that the increase in taxes was the most worrying issue, while four per cent said the decreasing value of the rupee was the most concerning problem.
Three per cent of them found increase in electricity prices to be the most worrying issue and two per cent said electricity load shedding was the problem that worried them the most. Two per cent rated corruption, bribery and nepotism as the most worrying issue, one per cent said interference of state departments in each other's matters was the most worrying problem and as many found disclamation behavior in the implementation of law and justice most worrying.
Comparing the results of surveys conducted since August 2019, the report stated that "inflation and unemployment have been the most worrying issues for Pakistanis" for the last two years. An average of survey results during this period showed that 72 per cent respondents rated inflation as the most worrying problem, 64pc unemployment, 50pc the increase in poverty, 33pc the increase in electricity prices and 29pc the burden of additional taxes.
Job security perception shrinks
According to this month's survey, job security perceptions in the country "have shrunk to ever lowest" since August 2019.
Twelve per cent of the participants were confident about job security, nearly half of the 26pc in September.
In this month's survey, nearly 90pc of the participants were not confident about job security in the country, up from 74pc in September's survey and highest since August 2019.
The survey report stated: "Fifty-four per cent Pakistanis reported witnessing themselves or people known to them personally losing their jobs in the past one year [and] the situation continues to [be] the same since 2020."
It added that just 15pc of the respondents felt confident about saving money and investing in their future, and nine in 10 Pakistanis did not feel "comfortable [about] purchasing major items like cars, homes etc."
"Similarly, more than 90pc Pakistanis [...] feel uncomfortable while purchasing other household items," the survey report read.
Economic situation perception hits 'rock bottom'
When asked about the state of economy, only five per cent of the respondents deemed it to be "strong". More than 40pc termed it "weak" and over 50pc were of the view that it was "neither strong nor weak".
An "acute majority" of the participants, 64pc of them, expected the economy to remain weak in the next six months and just 12pc were hopeful about the economy getting stronger. Meanwhile, 24pc of the participants said the economy would neither weaken or strengthen in the coming few months.
The survey report, hence, concluded: "After seeing an all-time high in September 2021, the current economic situation perception has hit rock bottom."
In September's survey, around 20pc of the participants had termed the then economic situation "strong".
Moreover, a mere five per cent of the participants in this month's survey rated their current financial situation as "strong". Over 40pc of them said their personal financial situation was "weak" and close to 50pc described their financial situation as "neither strong nor weak".
Similarly, just 13pc of them were optimistic about their financial situation improving over the next six months, while 63pc lacked this confidence and 24pc believed that their personal financial situation would neither strengthen nor weaken.
The survey report further stated that over the past two months, the consumer confidence index — a survey that measures how optimistic or pessimistic consumers are regarding their expected financial situation — had gone down by 12 points in Pakistan to reach 27.3, the lowest among similar emerging markets, namely Brazil, China, Russia, India, South Africa and Turkey.