New data shows that the average take-home pay in South Africa increased to its highest point in seven years as high earners received bonus pay outs in March. However, typical salaries are at a year low, at R10,043.
The latest average take-home pay of employees paid into the National Payments System, showed the highest annual increase since the start of BankservAfrica’s Take-home Pay Index in 2012.
“The average take-home pay increased in real terms by 4.4% year-on-year to reach R14,500 – the highest inflation adjusted average take-home pay in the near seven-year history of the index,” said Shergeran Naidoo, head: stakeholder engagements at BankservAfrica.
The average take-home pay not adjusted for inflation also reached a new high of R15,812 – an 8.7% year-on-year increase.
While these are significant, Naidoo noted that the typical employee did not feel this increase. On a year-on-year basis, the typical take-home pay of R10,043 was 1.3% less after adjusting for inflation.
“Based on BankservAfrica’s March take-home pay data, it appears that there were more bonus payouts than usual to higher earners. This is especially as companies reward their senior and middle level staff based on the company’s overall performance,” said Mike Schüssler, chief economist at Economists.co.za.
The increase is also attributed to the number of people who banked more than R40,000 in March growing by 15% on a year-on-year basis while the number earning less than R12,000, but more than R6,000 per month declined by about 6%, said Naidoo. Meanwhile, the number of take-home pay employees earning between R4,000 to R6,000 increased by 6.5% on a year-on-year basis.
“The number of ‘high earners’ with monthly incomes between R40,000 – R100,000 increased substantially between 2017 and 2018, which augmented the value of the average take-home pay in March,” said Schüssler. In March, the median employee took home just 69.3% of the average take-home pay salary.
Since March 2012 to March 2019, the real average take-home pay increased by 5.3% and the median or typical take home pay increased by 3.7% in real terms, making the case that the average rises faster due to those earning more getting higher increases.
“But March 2019 is a very big outlier and if we did the same calculation for the six years to February 2019, the median would have increased by 6.3% in real terms and the average would have increased by only 3.9%. In January, the median increased by 12.9% in real terms from January 2012 while the average only increased by 6.3%,” said Schüssler.
Therefore, in some months like March, the average employee is doing better than the typical employee in the middle of the income spectrum. But in most months, the typical employee’s actual take-home pay is 0.2% better than the average employee’s, the economist said.
“This small difference tells us that the typical employee does a little better with take-home pay increases. One should expect this as the personal income tax rates have not been adjusted for inflation, particularly for higher income earners,” said Schüssler.
“It tells us that the value add in the South African economy is spread more fairly than we think to employees and filters down to the normal working person. This is, of course, beneficial for those employed in the formal sector.”