Poverty statistics released this past week suggest income inequality in Malta is rising, advocacy group Caritas noted on Saturday.

The organisation highlighted how the number of people living with income below certain key thresholds had risen over the past year.

Figures released by the National Statistics Office revealed that in 2018, 78,685 people lived on less than €8,868 a year and 16,241 people lived on income below €5,912 a year.

Both those totals were up from the previous year, with the former threshold registering a 16.7 per cent increase and the latter up by 2.8 per cent.

“With economic growth of around six per cent, many people in Malta have done well. But those on the lower rungs are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up the pace,” Caritas said.

The NSO figures showed that Malta’s overall percentages of people living in poverty or on its fringes declined for the fifth consecutive year, although the at-risk-of-poverty rate rose fractionally when social exclusion risks were factored out.