The average salary in South Africa vs the world

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has updated its data on the average wage paid to workers across the 36 countries it covers.

The latest jobs data by StatsSA showed a quarter -on-quarter increase of 0.8% in average monthly earnings paid to employees in the formal non-agricultural sector to R18,687 in February 2017.

BankservAfrica’s Disposable Salary Index (BDSI) showed a more realistic ‘take home’ picture averaging at R13,790 in May 2017, slightly lower than April’s R13,914.

The OECD data uses the total wages paid out to employees, hence the Stats SA data makes for the best comparison. It should also be noted that the OECD is also adjusted for purchasing power parity.

Jobs data by StatsSA for 2016 showed that average monthly earnings paid to employees in the formal non-agricultural sector was at R17,517 per month – translating to R210,200 annually.

South Africa’s average salary per year translates to $15,861, but the country has a local purchasing power almost twice the value of the US$ – a fair value exchange of R5.81 to the dollar, according to the IMF (2016).

Compared to the most recently available OECD data, South Africa falls somewhere in the middle of the country’s covered, with the dollar equivalent (US$36,180, adjusted for purchasing power parity) placing around the same levels as Italy and Spain.

Country Average salary (US$,PPP) GDP per capita (US$ ,PPP)
Luxembourg 62 636 105 881
United States 60 154 57 466
Switzerland 60 124 62 881
Iceland 55 984 51 398
Norway 53 643 59 301
Netherlands 52 833 50 898
Denmark 52 580 49 696
Australia 52 063 46 789
Ireland 51 681 68 882
Belgium 49 587 46 383
Canada 48 403 44 025
Austria 48 295 50 077
Germany 46 389 48 729
France 42 992 41 466
United Kingdom 42 835 42 608
Sweden 42 816 49 174
Finland 42 127 43 052
New Zealand 39 397 39 058
Japan 39 113 41 469
Spain 37 333 36 309
South Africa 36 180 13 225
Italy 35 397 38 160
Slovenia 34 965 32 884
Israel 34 023 37 901
Korea 32 399 35 750
Chile 28 434 23 960
Poland 25 921 27 810
Greece 25 124 26 783
Portugal 24 529 30 624
Czech Republic 23 722 34 711
Estonia 23 621 29 364
Slovak Republic 23 508 30 632
Lithuania 22 949 29 966
Latvia 22 389 26 031
Hungary 21 711 26 680
Mexico 15 311 17 861

Source: OECD, World Bank, BusinessTech

South Africa’s average salary data is skewed by large levels of inequality, and excludes the large informal sector. Each country’s GDP per capita (adjusted for PPP) has been included to show this disparity.

For example, domestic workers, of which there are over 1 million employed in South Africa, earn approximately R2,500 per month – using the same OECD metrics above, this equates to just over $5,160 per year (adjusted for PPP).

StatsSA’s latest data also shows that South Africa has more domestic workers in employment than it does professionals, currently making up 6.2% of the country’s 16.2 million person workforce.

Professional make up 5.5%, with the gap between the two groups widening every quarter.

South Africa also has an incredibly high unemployment rate, with 27.7% of workers out of a job – and by the broader definition putting it over 36%.


Read: The average salary in South Africa by industry

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The average salary in South Africa vs the world