South Africa’s salaries improved by 3% year-on-year in real terms in October 2020, according to the latest BankservAfrica Take-home Pay Index (BTPI).
“With Covid-19 UIF TERs payments winding up in September 2020 and the number of employees remaining far fewer than before for the extended October 2020 applications, the BTPI is in a better position to gauge the actual number of salaries paid,” said head of stakeholder engagements at BankservAfrica, Shergeran Naidoo.
The average take-home pay was recorded at R14,773 in nominal terms in October 2020, representing a 5% monthly change from September 2020.
However, the annual comparison of the number of salaries paid continued declining.
“There was a 10.4% decline between October 2020 and October 2019. This is deeper than what our data showed in September but far less than the 34% experienced in July 2020,” said Naidoo.
In real terms,accounting for inflation, take-home pay was recorded at R12,760 in October, up from R12,042 in September.
According to the BTPI data, the most affected income earners during the Covid-19 pandemic were those taking home R30,000 and below.
“At the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, daily and weekly workers were hurt the most with salary numbers dropping to extremely low levels,” said Mike Schüssler, chief economist at economists.co.za. “This is similar to what is being experienced around the world where lower-end income earners were hit the hardest.”
July and June showed the biggest declines in salaries paid compared to April, which showed the slightest declines. This is due to payments to employees and employment figures lagging economic events by around a month. Added to this are the payrolls, which are predefined by a month or two.
“The worst economic numbers were recorded in April but the worst salary numbers reflected in July, three months later,” Schüssler said.
Although UIF payments were not included in the numbers, the BTPI showed that employment in the formal sector was impacted negatively during the crisis. This has since improved, but a full recovery is not expected for some time.
“The increase in average take-home pay, despite the decline in the number of salaries, resulted in total salaries decreasing by 0.1% in nominal terms in October 2020,” said Schüssler.
“The few remaining TERS payments may help consumer spending. But, when these and the extra SASSA payments cease, we may see the real damage of the pandemic to our economy, through salaries.
“It seems that as the economy settles after the lockdown upheaval, the real damage to personal incomes’ is starting to emerge,” he said.