Energy costs, fuel prices, expensive groceries: many people in Germany are affected by the economic effects of the Ukraine war and rising inflation in their everyday lives. As a result, more and more workers are becoming very concerned about their own economic situation. New results of a representative survey by the Hans Böckler Foundation show that current fears are higher than at any time during the Corona crisis.

Around a quarter of all employed and job-seekers state that they are “extremely” or “strongly” burdened by their own financial situation. 26 percent of those surveyed express “great concerns” about their own economic situation. At the beginning of the Corona crisis in April 2020, around 24 percent fewer employees were very concerned.

The fears are currently greatest among people with a household income of less than 1,300 euros a month net: almost 80 percent of those surveyed are worried about rising prices. Among middle-income groups, 54 to 59 percent are very concerned about inflation. Of all those surveyed, around 37 percent express great concern about their old-age insurance and 29 percent fear that they will no longer be able to maintain their standard of living.

“The fears are not only fueled by the world security situation, but also to a very large extent by material burdens and concerns,” says Prof. Dr. Bettina Kohlrausch, Director of the Economic and Social Science Institute (WSI) of the Böckler Foundation. Overall, the picture emerges of a constantly insecure society that looks to the future with little confidence.

Groups that have been particularly hard hit by the financial strains of the pandemic are also now more concerned and are once again facing above-average problems. The concern about social inequality in Germany is therefore currently more pronounced than ever during the Corona crisis. Around two-thirds of those surveyed fear that society is in danger of breaking down as a result of inequality.

Three quarters assume that income distribution will continue to drift apart. “Many respondents have no confidence that the burden of the Ukraine crisis will be shared fairly and do not feel that they are getting enough support,” says Kohlrausch.

This also weakens trust in the federal government and democratic institutions. A total of 63 percent of all employees express dissatisfaction with the federal government. Only 24 percent support the government’s decisions in the Ukraine war, while 70 percent are critical of the crisis management.

With a view to trust in democracy, it is urgently necessary to keep an eye on those who have already suffered severely from the corona pandemic. “This is not just a question of social justice for the groups affected, but also of stabilizing society as a whole,” says Kohlrausch. The social and financial aspects are decisive for the widespread dissatisfaction.

Due to the personal burden, many workers want to adapt their everyday behavior. A majority plans to use less energy in the future because of rising prices. Depending on the form of energy, 61 to 72 percent intend to do this. After all, 13 to 19 percent have strong reductions in mind.

Since the spring of 2020, the Hans Böckler Foundation has been conducting regular representative surveys with employed persons. The current numbers are the results of the latest wave of panels.