The rand
  • The average monthly salary earned in South Africa was above R23,000, according to the latest quarterly employment data.
  • The numbers show a sharp slump in employment in SA, with 600,000 fewer jobs in December 2020, than in the previous year.
  • Those who kept their jobs lost out on R13 billion in bonuses and overtime in December.
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The average monthly salary earned in South Africa was R23,133 by November last year, Statistics SA’s latest quarterly employment statistics (QES) show.

This was 3.1% more than in the same month in 2019, which means that salaries did not keep up with the cost of living, as inflation (3.2%) was higher during that time.

But many fewer people were lucky enough to earn a salary at all last year, as companies retrenched hundreds of thousands of workers during the pandemic. The data shows that total employment, outside of agriculture, fell by almost 600,000 jobs between December 2019 and 2020. The last quarter did show a strong improvement from earlier in the year, however.

Source: Statistics SA

The job losses were also apparent in SA companies’ total wage bill. The total basic salaries paid to employees came to R650 billion in December 2020, which was 3.4% less than a year before.

Source: Statistics SA

Only in the mining sector did salary payments increase (by almost 4%). The total salary bill in manufacturing fell by almost 6%, construction by 16% and transport by 10%.

And the QES numbers showed that South African workers received R13.2 billion – or almost 13% less - in bonuses and overtime in December last year, compared to the same month in 2019.

Workers in the construction sector were worst hit - losing 25% of their bonuses and overtime.

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