The industries that pay the highest average salaries in South Africa

Stats SA has published its latest Quarterly Employment Survey, showing what the average monthly salary is in South Africa right now, across all industries.

As part of the data, Stats SA breaks down earnings across various sectors in the country, including mining, manufacturing, trade and transport, among others.

The country’s formal sector lost 28,000 jobs in Q3:2019 compared to Q2:2019, Stats SA said, noting 10.142 million employed at the end of the quarter, compared to 10.17 million in the previous quarter.

This represents a decline of 0.3% q/q, however it is 0.8% more than the same time in 2018 (or an addition of 78,000 over Q3 last year).

Job losses were seen in construction (-12,000); manufacturing (-12,000); community services (-11,000); business services (-9,000); and transport (-1,000) in Q3.

Gains were only made in trade (+17,000), with electricity and mining flat.


Across these industries, only the construction and transport sectors saw an overall decline in total gross earnings quarter,on-quarter, with the former dropping 2.3% and the latter 4.1%.

Year-on-year, however, transport was still up 4%. Here, electricity (-0.3%) and construction (-4.9%) fared the worst.

Over the quarter, those working in the electricity sector saw the highest average wage over the three-month period, earning R45,700 per month (including bonuses and overtime). Looking at just the basic salary and wages, the monthly average drops to R42,825.

The electricity sector employs 59,000 people, with total gross earnings paid to employees at R8.09 billion.

On the other side of the spectrum, those working in trade have the lowest average monthly salary at R15,200 (or R14,000 excluding bonuses and overtime). The trade sector, which includes retail and wholesale, employs 2.265 million people, and paid out R103.3 billion.

The table below outlines how the different sectors were paid (including overtime and bonuses). Note that employees include both full-time and part-time workers, and excludes the agricultural sector. Numbers have been rounded.

Sector Employees (‘000) Gross earnings Quarter average Per month
Trade 2 265 R103.3 billion R45 600 R15 200
Construction 599 R30.6 billion R51 000 R17 000
Manufacturing 1 194 R71.0 billion R59 500 R19 800
Business Services 2 343 R186.1 billion R79 400 R26 500
Mining 462 R36.9 billion R79 900 R26 600
Transport 482 R39.6 billion R82 300 R27 400
Community Services 2 783 R235.6 billion R84 700 R28 200
Electricity 59 R8.1 billion R137 100 R45 700

The data shows that the average monthly earnings paid to employees in the formal, non-agricultural sector was up slightly quarter to quarter (2.6%), while showing an annual increase of 3.7%.

The average worker is paid R21,966 per month – up from the R21,414 recorded at the end of Q2, and up from R20,433 recorded in the same period in 2018.

This equates to approximately R263,592 per year.

Read: This is the average salary in South Africa right now

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The industries that pay the highest average salaries in South Africa