What’s changing household income in South Africa right now

 ·22 Oct 2022

South African consumers shrugged off macroeconomic headwinds to remain optimistic about their financial prospects in the third quarter of 2022, research conducted by TransUnion shows.

At the end of August, three-quarters (74%) of respondents expect their incomes to increase in the next year, while 64% said they will be able to pay their current bills and loans in full.

In all, 37% of respondents in TransUnion’s quarterly Consumer Pulse study said their incomes had increased in the previous three months, a six percentage point increase from the prior quarter and 11 percentage points up from the beginning of this year.

In all, 15% of consumers said they had started a new job and 20% had opened a new business, in the month leading up to the survey.

These positive signs came despite the annual inflation rate soaring to a 13-year high of 7.8% in July 2022, up from 7.4% in June and well above the upper limit of the South African Reserve Bank’s target range of 3%–6%.

Annual core inflation, which excludes food prices, non-alcoholic beverages, fuel and energy, rose to 4.4% in July 2022 – the highest since October 2017.

Weihan Sun, director of Research and Consulting at TransUnion Africa, cautioned that continued inflationary pressures may cause further cuts in consumer spending.

“We see the country’s shrinking unemployment rate (33.9% in Q2 2022, from 34.5% in Q1 2 ) being a key driver of improved household incomes, but despite improved household incomes and a greater ability to service debt, the rise in inflationary pressures is definitely going to see some consumers cutting back on discretionary spending. This sentiment is likely to continue in the coming months,” said Sun.

TransUnion’s Consumer Pulse survey of 1,047 adults was conducted 19–26 August 2022 by TransUnion in partnership with third-party research provider, Dynata.

“These are encouraging signs, considering the South Africa youth unemployment rate of 61.4% in Q2 2022,” said Sun.

Read: How much money cashiers are paid at South Africa’s largest retailers

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