South African Salaries Decline

A Closer Look at Employment Trends

South African Salaries Decline

The average formal, non-agricultural salary in South Africa saw a slight decline, dropping from R26,822 in the fourth quarter of 2023 to R26,791 in the first quarter of 2024, as reported by the latest Quarterly Employment Statistics (QES) from Statistics South Africa (StatsSA).

According to the QES data, the average monthly earnings (AME), which include bonuses and overtime payments, decreased by 0.1% from November 2023 to February 2024. Despite this quarterly decrease, a year-on-year comparison reveals that the average salary increased by 4.6%.

Sector-Specific Salary Changes

In Q1 2024, the average salaries in industries such as mining, manufacturing, and business services experienced a decline. However, it’s worth noting that not all sectors faced a downturn. StatsSA indicated that certain industries saw an increase in average earnings during the same period. Notably, the transport industry reported the highest annual increase of 9.5%, whereas the community services industry had the smallest increase at only 2.3%.

Employment Statistics

StatsSA’s data also highlighted a decrease in total employment, with a 0.6% drop quarter-on-quarter, resulting in a loss of 67,000 jobs. The number of employed individuals fell from 10,731,000 in December 2023 to 10,664,000 in March 2024. The industries most affected by job losses included:

  • Trade: 57,000 jobs lost (2.4%)
  • Community services: 18,000 jobs lost (0.6%)
  • Business services: 4,000 jobs lost (0.2%)
  • Mining: 3,000 jobs lost (0.6%)

The electricity industry remained stable, showing no change in employment figures.

Conversely, some sectors saw an increase in employment:

  • Manufacturing: 12,000 jobs gained (0.9%)
  • Transport: 2,000 jobs gained (0.4%)
  • Construction: 1,000 jobs gained (0.2%)

Year-on-Year Employment Trends

Comparing year-on-year data, there was a net loss of 74,000 jobs, marking a 0.7% decrease in employment from March 2023 to March 2024. Full-time employment also saw a reduction, with 29,000 jobs lost from Q4 2023 to Q1 2024, equating to a 0.3% decline. Over the same year-on-year period, full-time employment decreased by 0.2%.

Overall, the data from StatsSA provides a nuanced view of South Africa’s economic landscape, highlighting specific areas of concern and growth within the job market.

What do you think?


Written by Bobby Boucher


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