The average take-home pay in South Africa at the start of 2022

The usual holiday cheer and festivities made a comeback over December 2021 as the latest take-home pay data from BankservAfrica shows more part-time and temporary workers were employed compared to December 2020.

According to the BankservAfrica Take-home Pay Index (BTPI) salary data for December, about two million more salary payments were made than in the prior year.

The index recorded a rise in the average nominal take-home pay, which now sits at R15,542 – up 7.1% from R14,925 in November 2021. Real take-home pay was up 1.6% at an average of R12,463.

Year on year, however, in nominal terms, take-home pay remains unchanged. In real terms – factoring in inflation – South African workers are poorer than a year ago, with take-home pay declining 5.2%, the index shows.

Good news for the economy

A 13% growth in the number of payments made to casual workers for the second consecutive month and the 5% year-on-year increase in weekly payments, shows that workers in these categories contributed to the higher salary numbers, said Shergeran Naidoo, BankservAfrica’s head of stakeholder engagements.

The part-time election officials overseeing the Municipal elections in November 2021 – and compensated in December 2021 – may have been another contributor, he said.

Mike Schüssler, chief economist at economists.co.za, said that during the Covid-19 crisis, the decline in the number of casual workers mirrored the double-digit decline in the number of weekly wages paid.

“Weekly and casual payments showed the worst declines for far longer – the estimated daily payments weakened by double digits on 14 occasions in the last 25 months.”

These December numbers have led to a higher average take-home pay figure. However, the 5.9% inflation increase in December – the highest in nearly five years – led to a 5.2% annual decline in the average real take-home pay.

The real (after inflation) take-home pay for December was R12,463 compared to R12,299 in November, BankservAfrica said.

The November Municipal Election payments and the usual year-end bonus pay-outs saw the total take-home pay paid via BankservAfrica reach an astronomical R72.2 billion in December. This is by far the highest nominal number in the history of the take-home pay that BankservAfrica has ever recorded.

In real terms, the total take-home pay paid to employees was still below the December 2017 and 2018 levels but above December 2019 and 6.2% above December 2020. December 2021 was a more normal December with casual payments increasing closer to the numbers seen in December 2018.

“We hope that the next months will confirm the return of lower-paid employees who were challenged the most during the pandemic. If that trend holds, it will indicate that the employment impact from the pandemic is receding,” Schüssler said.

Record for the rich

December also recorded the highest number of people paid salaries exceeding R100,000 – over 27,700 individuals. This is up by 16.6% on December 2020’s figures.

The over R100,000 total amount paid was R7.3 billion, which was also the highest on record.

The high numbers in the run-up to December show that some of these payments were for the usual top-end bonuses in December while some were made to new pensioners. However, some of these may have also been pay-outs to those retrenched from large companies in sectors that were hit the hardest by Covid-19, BankservAfrica said.


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The average take-home pay in South Africa at the start of 2022