Take-home pay in South Africa dropped over December, but was still slightly higher than a year ago, the latest BankservAfrica Take-home Pay Index shows.
The index recorded nominal take-home pay over December at R15,415, up from R14,841 in November, and 5.4% higher than R14,625 in December 2019. In real terms, taking inflation into account, take-home pay is at R13,149.
The real average take-home pay increased by 2.1% year-on-year – but as BankservAfrica noted, the average salary rose as a result of the decline in the number of lower paid earners in the system, which led to the nominal increase.
The total take-home pay in the system, in real terms, actually declined by 2% year-on-year, the group said.
While the aggregate take-home pay decline proved to be not as excessive, chief economist at economists.co.za, Mike Schüssler, said this comes off a very low annual base.
“In December 2019, the number amounted to 4% less than December 2018,” he said.
The BTPI, which measures monthly salaries processed by BankservAfrica through the National Payment System, also takes into account the ongoing shifts in the Covid-19 UIF TERS payments. These movements – as seen in previous BTPIs – have led to the index’s salaries not at normal levels.
“Although TERS payments applications closed in September, it re-opened in November for October applications to assist industries feeling the brunt of the lockdown impact. These payments were still being paid in December,” Schüssler said.
The delay in payments has complicated the assessment of money going through the payments systems, as in some months employees were not paid via the normal payments system, and in other months this resumed when catch up payments were made.
“Therefore, along with tax relief and suspended pension fund contributions, the total take-home pay in the BTPI does not yet reflect the reality of the overall employment situation,” Schüssler said.
Early estimations point to around 5% – 10% of employees in the BankservAfrica payment universe affected by the lockdown.
“Still, this may not be the full picture as the BTPI salary data underrepresents smaller firms such as restaurant chains, smaller hotel groups and vehicle rental agencies,” the economist noted.
Schüssler said the BTPI will likely reflect a more normal situation in the next months for the average and median salaries in the formal sector that are paid via BankservAfrica.