The increase in consumer prices in March was 0.2%, during January-March it was 1.7%. In March, prices for foodstuffs increased by 0.3%; prices for non-foodstuffs remained unchanged; and prices for paid services increased by 0.1%.

The increment of prices established by manufacturers of industrial products in March was 0.7%. During the first quarter these prices were up 2.4%.

An average cost of a set of 22 of the most important foodstuffs was UAH 64.01.

In January-April the increment of consumer prices was 3.0%; during April consumer prices increased by 1.3%.

Incomes, Wages, Labor Market

In January-February 1998, average monthly nominal wages increased compared to the respective period of the previous year by 6% amounting to UAH 7,150 mln; per capita nominal wages amounted to UAH 141.0. At the same time, cash incomes defined by way of exclusion of mandatory payments, voluntary donations, and adjustment for inflation decreased by 4.6%.

A peculiarity of February was the approximate equality of the increments of both nominal (18.1%) and real (18.0%) incomes.

Nominally, a calculated payment per employee was UAH 153.73 in February, which is up 1% compared to January 1998 and 10.7% compared to February 1997.

Real wages increased by 0.5% in February compared to January. The overall amount of wage arrears amounted to UAH 5,415.0 mln., which is up 1.9% compared to January 1998. Out of this amount, 73.2% comprise last year's arrears and 12.5% -- February's arrears.

As of 10 March 1998, the share of those who received their wages was 71% (10,800,000) of the overall number of employed in the sectors of the economy; the respective indices for industry were 76% and 3,300,000. In agriculture almost all the employees (3,000,000) received their wages. Wage arrears per employee amounted to UAH 501.

These figures indicate not only about the scale of arrears, but also (indirectly) about the scale of the "shadow"income in Ukraine.

During the first two months of 1998, the overall amount of pension arrears increased by 17% (UAH 225.6 mln). As of 1 March 1998, this amount was UAH 1,588.3 mln. Stipend arrears increased by 6% and reached UAH 112 mln.

Interestingly, against the background of increased wage and pension arrears, the positive balance of purchases of foreign currency by the public increased rapidly: $222.1 mln USD during January and February. During 1997, this index amounted to $835.7 mln USD. The overall amount of hard-currency savings of the public is estimated to be minimum $8 bln USD.

As of 1 March 1998, the number of registered unemployed increased to 724,273 and as of 1 April 1998 it was 759,664. The level of unemployment (assessed using the Ukrainian methodology as the ratio of the number of unemployed to the number of able-bodied people) was 2.8%.

According to estimates of UEPLAC, the European consultative center on legislation, the share of unemployed in the overall number of labor force reaches 3.4%.

Note. Data sources include official date of the State Committee for Statistics, Ministry of Finance, State Custom Service, State Labor Committee and the National Bank of Ukraine.

By way of reference: The average monthly hryvnia exchange rate to US dollar in March was 2.0344 UAH/USD, in April -- 2.0399 UAH/USD.

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