More Lithuanian pensioners continue working after retirement, as pensions fail to meet their financial needs.
Janina Aidukienė has been working all her adult life and did not stop after she reached the retirement age. For seven years, she has been complementing her pension with salary from working at an insurance company.
“I could not afford many things otherwise,” Janina tells LRT TV. “Utility bills alone are as big as they can be and they are raising the prices further. After you pay the bills, there is very little left for day-to-day spending.”
The number of working pensioners is growing each year, according to the Social Insurance Fund Sodra, even though salaries are no longer growing as fast as they used to in recent years. For a fifth of workers, wages actually declined, according to Sodra, while much of the pay growth occurred in the lowest-paid segment.
The average monthly pay of working pensioners was a little under €850 before tax, Sodra says. Over a quarter of all senior citizens in Lithuanian between the age of 60 and 70 are employed. In most cases, their pay fall below the average wage.
“The situation of pensioners is improving, we've seen the average retirement pension to increase 12 percent over the last year, of which 8 percent was due to indexing,” Sodra spokeswoman Kristina Zitkytė tells LRT TV. “Another trend we see is that more pensioners find opportunities to works and supplement their pensions with income from work".
Grasilda Makarevičienė, the president of the Elder People's Association, says that while pensioners increasingly want to lead more active lives, the main reason they look for a job is to stay financially afloat.
“Finding a job befitting their training and experience is complicated [for pensioners], nearly impossible,” Makarevičienė says. “And the jobs they can get – sweeping floors, washing, cleaning windows – they are not doing for pleasure".
The economist Romas Lazutka counters Sodra's claims that the situation of pensioners in Lithuania is improving.
“Despite the raises to retirement pensions, something the government likes to brag about, the pensions grew 7.5 percent, while salaries grew 9 percent, which means that the relative position of pensioners keeps deteriorating,” according to Lazutka.
The total number of pension recipients declined by 700, or 0.1 percent, in 2018 from 2017, but their share of the total population remained on an upward trend, Statistics Lithuania said.
Some 904,700 people in Lithuania, or one-third of the population, received at least one type of pension at the end of last year, preliminary figures from the country’s statistics office showed on Friday.
In late 2018, retirement pensions were paid to 671,900 people, a fourth of the population. The number of pension recipients per 1,000 inhabitants rose by one, year-on-year, to 240 people.
Spending on pensions increased by €357 million, or 12.6 percent, last year from 2017 to €3.2 billion, accounting for 7.1 percent of GDP, according to the preliminary figures.