HCM City residents struggle as living costs rise, incomes stagnate

March 10, 2022 - 09:19

Many HCM City residents are suffering the double whammy of rising living costs and stagnant or falling incomes that is making it very difficult for them to make ends meet.


Monthly salaries of below VNĐ7 million have made it difficult for many HCM City residents to make ends meet, especially in the face of a “price storm”. — Photo courtesy of thanhnien.vn

HCM CITY — Many HCM City residents are suffering the double whammy of rising living costs and stagnant or falling incomes that is making it very difficult for them to make ends meet.

Nguyễn Thị Lựu, who works for a fashion store in Tân Bình District, earns VNĐ7.5 million per month, inclusive of lunch allowance, but she often returns home to eat with her daughter instead of eating out.

“The VNĐ7.5 million is spent on rent, food, school fees and clothes, among other things. If I were to buy lunch elsewhere, it would cost us VNĐ60,000 for two boxes of rice.” Lựu said, adding that the price of each box of rice has gone up by VNĐ10,000 since the pandemic. 

After deducting other necessary monthly expenses, Lựu’s family is left with nearly VNĐ3 million for food per month.

“I used to get VNĐ50,000 worth of gasoline for four days on the street. Now the same amount gets me three days. We can no longer buy some fancy food some mornings the way we could before. Even though we have tried to stay within a budget, it is not easy to make ends meet.”

Office workers also say that they are being buffeted by the “price storm.”

Thuỳ Dung, 25, who is from Bình Phước Province and currently stays in HCM City’s Bình Thạnh Distirct, told the Thanh Niên (Young People) newspaper that she has been in shock after being fired a week ago.

Dung’s company was operating normally during the pandemic’s peak last year. After the 2022 Lunar New Year holiday, her company asked employees to divide shifts and work from home. 

In February, while Dung was working from home, her direct manager called and told her that her labour contract was being ended as the company has changed its development direction. Each dismissed employee will be supported with VNĐ1 million to find a new job, she was told.

“I am in shock considering that I just came back to Sài Gòn to stabilise the job situation,” Dung said, adding that unemployment amidst the pandemic has made her life extremely difficult.

“I was able to earn VNĐ8-9 million per month and used VNĐ3 million for rent, electricity and water bills; VNĐ500,000 for gasoline and phone bills and VNĐ4 million for food. Low income and high accommodation costs have made me very careful with spending, especially when there is a friend’s wedding or some motorbike upkeep.”

From the same province as Dung, Mai Hương, 25, is also struggling.

Hương decided to go to HCM City to work after three years of working in Bình Phước. The pandemic hit when she had just settled in and secured a good job. Then she was asked to “temporarily stay at home and wait for the company’s call for work.

After five months of unemployment in HCM City, what Hương had saved over the three years in Bình Phước had gone. 

Fortunately, when she returned to her hometown to find a job, Hương received a job opportunity with an export company with a monthly salary of VNĐ10 million.

Unstable incomes, escalating living costs including expensive accommodation and food have made life an uphill struggle for people with salaries of less than VNĐ7 million per month.

Many have decided to quit their jobs and return to their hometowns.

Lê Thị Thu Ngân, who worked for a law office in District 1, returned to Phú Yên at the end of February since she could not make ends meet with a monthly salary of VNĐ5.5 million.

“I am waiting to get a better job with a slightly higher salary,” Ngân said.

With many people deciding to leave HCM City, like Ngân, many businesses are having a hard time recruiting workers.

Nguyễn Bính, general director of the Nguyễn Bính Production, Trade and Service Joint Stock Company, said that she has been looking for delivery drivers and factory workers since Tết. It was difficult as most interviewees have no experience and complain that the salary offered is not enough to live on, she said.

“The monthly salary of workers working from afternoon to evening is from VNĐ7 to 8 million, but after working for less than one month, some tend to ask for leave due to rising accommodation and travel expenses. If they are told they can stay in the facility, some refuse because they like to live elsewhere and then complain about the expensive cost of living…” Bính said.

According to her, it has been tough to find delivery drivers, to work from 8PM to 6AM the next morning for salaries of VNĐ9 to 11 million per month.

“If I pay more, I will indeed become my workers’ worker. In fact, the price escalation makes it extremely difficult for workers and small businesses to carry on with the business,” she said.

Many large enterprises are offering social benefits for employees, in addition to a monthly salary of VNĐ8.5 - 11 million in an effort to attract new workers and retain them.

A representative of the Furukawa Automotive Parts Việt Nam Company in District 7’s Tân Thuận Export Processing Zone said that the company has been seeking more than 500 workers without experience. They will be provided with vocational training, accommodation support, shuttle bus to work, 13th month bonus and vacation during the year.

The company’s chairman, Hoàng Xuân Thái, said quality remuneration policies are crucial to attract new and loyal workers. This is a tactic for employees to understand that the company would like to be with them for a long time, he said. — VNS