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Ukrainians’ optimism exceeds pre-war levels despite economic hardships: survey

Ukrainians’ optimism exceeds pre-war levels despite economic hardships: survey

A survey conducted earlier this month across Ukraine offers valuable insight into civilian sentiments, economic welfare and forced displacement over the past six months. The poll, carried out September 5-7 by the Sociological Group “Rating,” queried 1,000 adults from all regions still under Ukrainian control.

Remarkably, 61% of Ukrainians believe their country is moving in the right direction. This defiant optimism remains essentially unchanged from a similar poll in July, underscoring an unbowed national spirit even after months of war. However, positive sentiment has dipped moderately since April/May, likely reflecting growing weariness and unease.

60% of respondents reported deteriorating personal finances over the past six months. Meanwhile, an even higher 73% said Ukraine’s overall economic situation has declined during that period.

Despite the current challenges, around 30% of respondents expect both their personal finances and Ukraine’s national economy to rebound next year. This cautious optimism was more pronounced among younger Ukrainians, employed people, and residents of western/central regions less directly impacted by the fighting.

Positive financial outlooks were higher among younger Ukrainians, employed respondents, and those in western and central areas.

Among internally displaced Ukrainians, who have borne the harshest economic impacts, 40% remain unemployed after having left their homes. However, some internally displaced individuals have found new jobs, underscoring the resilience and adaptability.

Per the survey, 44% of previously employed respondents are working at their regular workplaces, while 15% found new jobs after being displaced or leaving due to the war.

However, 25% remain unemployed after losing positions from the economic fallout of war. Job recovery is progressing quickest in western/central oblasts farther from current clashes. Employment has also rebounded more among younger demographics, and men, who are more likely to serve in Ukraine’s military.

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The survey uncovered further differences in labor market recovery. Residents of the Kyiv metropolitan area are having an easier time finding and retaining jobs. However, displaced individuals from rural areas or small towns appear to be struggling more with unemployment.

The survey also found interesting geographical differences in economic outlooks. Residents of southern oblasts, though battered by occupation and fierce operations on the battlefield, registered relatively more positive assessments of Ukraine’s future economic prospects. Meanwhile, people in the east had especially negative financial outlooks.

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, 7.6 million Ukrainians have been internally displaced, according to the UN. This survey saw displacement rates remain steady, with 18% forced from their homes — predominantly in the eastern and southern regions.

On jobs, 44% of previously employed respondents are working at their regular workplaces, and 15% found new roles, painting an optimistic view of Ukraine’s labor market resilience. However, 25% remain unemployed after losing positions due to the war.

Employment is rebounding quicker in western and central oblasts; among younger demographics; and among men, who are more likely to serve in Ukraine’s military. The survey found Kyiv residents also have an easier time finding and retaining jobs.

“On the economic front, the news was grimmer,” the Rating Group summarized. “60% reported a decline in their personal economic circumstances over the past six months, while 73% said Ukraine’s overall economic situation has deteriorated.”

“Still, around 30% expect their personal finances and the national economy to improve next year,” the analysts added.

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