Household budgets in many countries around the world continue to be squeezed due to insufficient growth in monthly incomes and rising cost of living, according to a new United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report.

“Wages have not kept up with inflation,” the UNCTAD cited in its report released on Tuesday.

The United Nations body has tracked the change in real hourly wages by quarter in 14 countries, which include South Africa, India, United States, Brazil and Switzerland, among others.

Out of the 14 states surveyed, only four countries posted an increase in real hourly wages during the third quarter of the year. The number of countries witnessing positive growth in salaries declined drastically compared to the pre-COVID period.

During the fourth quarter of 2018, nearly all the countries included in the study (13) showed positive change in workers’ hourly incomes.

“The cost of living and insufficient wage growth continue to squeeze household budgets everywhere,” UNCTAD in its report.

“Economic inequality remains a significant challenge, with developing countries disproportionately affected, including by the effects of monetary tightening in the advanced economies.”

The widening wealth gap further threatens to undermine the fragile economic recovery and sustainable development goals of various countries.

The report has warned that the global economy is stalling, with growth slowing in most regions compared with last year and only a small number of countries bucking the trend.

World economic growth could slow from 3% in 2022 to 2.4% in 2023, the report noted. There are a few signs of an economic rebound in 2024, with most regions expected to see a significant slowdown.

Among those expected to buck the trend are Brazil, Japan, Mexico and Russia, but growth in these countries will not be significant.

(Writing by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)