Statistics South Africa has published the latest Quarterly Employment Survey (QES) for Q2 2022, showing what workers are getting paid across the various sectors in the country.
The data shows that average monthly earnings paid to employees in the formal non-agricultural sector saw a quarter-on-quarter increase of 3.7% from R23,697 in February 2022 to R24,578 in May 2022.
The year-on-year average monthly earnings paid to employees in the formal non-agricultural sector increased by 4.0%.
Gross earnings paid to employees increased by R0.5 billion or 0.1%, from R786.8 billion in March 2022 to R787.3 billion in June 2022. This was largely due to increases in the following industries: transport, community services, trade, construction and mining.
However, there were decreases in the following industries: business services, manufacturing, and electricity.
The year-on-year gross earnings increased by R33.6 billion or 4.5% between June 2021 and June 2022.
Basic salary/wages paid to employees increased by R10.3 billion or 1.5%, from R706.7 billion in March 2022 to R717 billion in June 2022. Year-on-year, basic salary/wages increased by R26.2 billion or 3.8% between June 2021 and June 2022.
Recent data published by The University of Cape Town’s Liberty Institute of Strategic Marketing showed that a household needs to earn around R22,000 to be considered middle class in South Africa.
This would mean that the average formally-employed non-agricultural worker in the country would fit into that class category. It also aligns with data from FNB, which paints a broader definition of someone earning between R15,000 and R40,000 a month.
While this may seem to be a relatively high number, the middle class in South Africa is under extreme pressure, often having to pay double for private services – i.e., after paying tax – like security and healthcare. Consumers in this class are also highly indebted, paying off bonds, vehicle finance and credit.
Data from FNB estimates that it takes a mere five days for middle-income consumers in the country to spend up to 80% of their monthly salary. This suggests that the average middle-income consumer, earning between R180,000 – R500,000 per annum, survives on 20% of their monthly salary for more than 20 days in a month.
Employment and jobs
The QES data reflects the number of people receiving salaries and does not reflect employment/unemployment trends, which are covered by the Quarterly Labour Force Survey.
The QES data showed that total employment decreased by 119,000 or 1.2% quarter-on-quarter, from 10,067,000 in March 2022 to 9,948,000 in June 2022. This was largely due to decreases in the following industries: community services (-100,000 or -3.4%), business services (-15,000 or -0.6%), construction (-13,000 or -2.4%), manufacturing (-12,000 or -1.0%) and electricity (-1,000 or -1.7%).
However, there were increases in the following industries: trade (17,000 or 0.8%), mining (4,000 or 0.9%) and transport (1,000 or 0.2%).
Total employment increased by 74,000 or 0.7% year-on-year between June 2021 and June 2022.
The latest QLFS survey, meanwhile, shows that the official unemployment rate was 33.9% in the second quarter, from 34.5% in the prior reporting period, recovering 0.6 of a percentage point.
The unemployment rate, according to the expanded definition of unemployment, also decreased by 1.4 percentage points to 44.1 % in Q2:2022 compared to Q1:2022.
Read: How much you need to earn to be ‘middle class’ in South Africa
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