BankservAfrica has released its latest take-home pay index, showing a minimal increase in what South Africans are taking home at the end of the month.
Take-home pay in September increased at a slower rate than August due to the majority of backdated government salaries having been paid out, the group said.
The data reveals that there have been minimal increases to the average take-home pay since September 2013 – providing a strong indication of the struggling economy in the last five years.
Take-home pay in September showed a year-on-year increase of 2.2%, a decline from the 4.7% year-on-year increase experienced in August 2018.
In nominal terms, the average banked take-home pay was R15,299 in September. In real terms, the average take-home pay was R14,256.
According to Shergeran Naidoo, Head: Stakeholder Engagements at BankservAfrica, on a month-on-month basis, BankservAfrica’s seasonally adjusted take-home pay declined by 1.4% between September and August due to the backdated salary payments and higher personal tax increases.
“Take-home pay increased in real terms for most of 2018 and we expect this to continue until the end of the year. However, 2019 could bring some change as inflation is expected to increase along with the continued poor growth performance of the South African economy,” said Mike Schüssler, Chief Economist at Economistscoza.
Very often higher inflation leads to salary increase lags and it takes a while for the two to catch-up. Although take-home pay does increase slightly above the inflation rate, other factors such as higher personal taxes caused by ‘bracket creep’ has an impact too, he said.
According to Schüssler, the average take-home pay increased by only 2.8% above inflation since September 2013, “as such, the average rate of increase is only around 0.5% year-on-year, and tells the story of an economy struggling to create growth and wealth,” he said.
Gross salaries increased by around 4% in the last five years to June 2018 after inflation – approximately 1% faster than inflation for the five years to September 2018, according to BankservAfrica’s estimates.
“The difference between the two average rates of increase is down due to the rise in personal taxes that did not fully compensate for inflation as government struggles to increase revenue to balance the budget,” said Schüssler.
There is a strong possibility that this will be addressed in the upcoming Medium-Term Budget Speech on Wednesday, he said.
The BankservAfrica Take-home Pay Index is a very useful tool for analysing the impact of taxation on employee income.
For example, the BankservAfrica Take-home Pay Index shows the overall nominal take-home pay increased by 45.3% while personal tax collections increased by 70.6% since August 2013 to August 2018.
“This clearly demonstrates that personal income tax has increased far faster than salaries,” Schüssler said.
While BankservAfrica’s sample size is a third of that of SARS, the large difference shows that personal tax collections in effect show a far higher tax rate mainly via ‘bracket creep’.