Take-home pay for South Africans declined in April as the tougher economic environment slowed payment growth, according to the latest BankservAfrica Take Home Pay Index.
The group said that the decline had a direct impact on the relationship between salaries and retail sales – which reached a significant low – and reflects the struggles of consumer spending.
Real take-home pay decreased by 1.5% for the year to April, averaging R13,741.
“This represents the third consecutive month of declines,” said Shergeran Naidoo, head of Stakeholder Engagements at BankservAfrica, who added that, although March’s figures were revised and seasonally adjusted, the average take-home pay still amounted to R13,829 in that month.
“Even with the adjustments, April’s figures were still lower,” he said.
According to Chief Economist at Economists.co.za, Mike Schüssler, all indications show that consumers are likely to remain under pressure as inflation slows slightly.
“April’s decline is likely to be from tax brackets not being adjusted for inflation. We believe that public service salary increases of between 5.2% and 6.2%, as announced by government, will have a very big impact on these numbers,” he said.
If government wage increases were implemented, this would mean private sector increases have been far below the inflation rate of 4.4% in April. Government’s payroll makes up close to 30% of BankservAfrica’s Take-home Pay Index sample.
“It is clear that employee salaries are not increasing at the same pace as before. Also, for the first time, salary adjustments are in decline when deflated with the Retail Price Index,” Schüssler said.
The Retail Price Index measures inflation in shops, not the total consumer inflation that includes electricity, rent, property taxes, schooling and health care costs.