Economic news in brief

Kazakhstan’s August inflation rate was 0.2 percent compared to the previous month and 2.9 percent compared to December, according to inform.kz. In the last month, food prices fell by 0.2 percent, non-food products increased by 0.6 percent and paid services hiked 0.2 percent. Since the beginning of the year, food prices have grown by 2.3 percent, non-food products by 3.6 percent and paid services by 3 percent. As of August, the annual inflation rate reached 6 percent.

Kazakh economic activity continues to grow, as short-term indicators show a 4.9-percent growth in the first seven months of the year, said National Bank Chair Daniyar Akishev according to forbes.kz. The main contributors have been trade (6.1 percent), mining (5.4 percent), communications (5.2 percent), manufacturing (4.9 percent) and transport (4.9 percent). Investments in fixed assets grew by 23.7 percent due to projects in the oil and gas, manufacturing and construction industries.

The Kazakh subsistence minimum reached 29,146 tenge (US$78.80) in August, a 7.5-percent increase in a month, reported finprom.kz. The average per capita subsistence level incorporates the minimum consumer basket of goods and services, including food products (55 percent) and non-food products (45 percent). The August indicator increased by 13.8 percent compared to December and 13.6 percent compared to the corresponding period last year. Within the subsistence minimum structure, spending on meat and fish represents 18.1 percent, fruits and vegetables (14.4 percent), dairy products and eggs (13.9) percent, bread and cereals (6.7 percent) and sugar, tea and spices (1.9 percent).

The Kazakh youth unemployment rate fell from 4.1 percent to 3.9 percent year-to-date, reported forbes.kz. The decline is associated with the 3.1-percent increase in the number of employees, from 1.5 million to 1.6 million. The number of self-employed, on the contrary, decreased by 7.9 percent, or 455,600 in the first half of the year. Total labour force numbers did not change significantly. The overall trend is negative for the number of unemployed aged 15-24, as the figure has dropped from 5.4 percent to 3.9 percent since 2012. The highest number of unemployed youth is registered in Almaty, which comprises nearly one-fifth of the total.

The number of large businesses in Kazakhstan has reduced from 2,265 to 2,239 in a year, according to kapital.kz. As of July, 33 new entities did not start their activities and 20 companies ceased operation. The highest number of active businesses is registered in Almaty, 490 companies compared to 500 last year. The lowest numbers are in the North Kazakhstan (59) and Turkestan and Zhambyl regions (73 each). In terms of types of economic activity, large businesses predominantly work in healthcare and social services (524), public administration and defence (261) and manufacturing (233).

Life insurance is becoming more prevalent in Kazakhstan, as the volume of voluntary life insurance premiums reached 22.7 billion tenge (US$61.3 million) in the first six months of the year, 1.5 times higher than in the corresponding period last year. The figure represents 10.7 percent of all insurance premiums compared to 7.2 percent last year. The annual volume of premiums is also following a positive trend, growing from 15 billion tenge (US$40.5 million) in 2012 to 32.6 billion tenge (US$88.1 million) in 2017. The growing popularity is seen despite increasing lifespan and falling mortality rate.