Ina Opperman

By Ina Opperman

Business Journalist

Salaries could be better in 2025

2024 might just turn out to be a better year for consumers who earn a salary as less load shedding enables employers to pay them more.

Data indicates that 2024 could still turn out to be a somewhat better year for salaries despite a volatile economy.

The BankservAfrica Take-home Pay Index (BTPI) tracked lower in April 2024, with the nominal average pay falling below the R16 000 mark experienced over the past two months to R15 374 in April.

“The good news is that this figure is still 5.6% up on salary levels from a year ago,” says Shergeran Naidoo, BankservAfrica’s head of stakeholder engagements.

The average real take-home pay, adjusted for inflation, also tracked lower at R13 566 in April although it was also marginally higher than a year ago.

Interestingly, Elize Kruger, an independent economist says, a comparison of the average nominal BTPI for the four months to April to the corresponding period one year earlier revealed a 6.0% improvement and 0.6% in real terms.

“If sustained throughout the year, 2024 could turn out to be a better year for salaries, unlike 2023 when the average BTPI increased by only 1.2%.”

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No load shedding means better salaries

She points out that with no load shedding over the past two months, the business environment has improved, enabling organisations to increase productivity and lower the cost of production.

“An improved business environment will positively influence companies’ ability to pay inflation-related salary increases in 2024.”

BankservAfrica data also aligns with the South African Reserve Bank’s forecast of an average salary increase of 6.1% for 2024.

With average consumer inflation likely to be around 5.1% in 2024, a forecast real increase of 1.0% in average wages could bode well for economic activity this year, Kruger says.

According to the BankservAfrica BTPI data, about 132 000 more salaries were paid in April 2024 compared to the previous month.

With South Africa’s unemployment rate at around 33%, any improvement in the job market is welcomed, she says.

“The elections on 29 May could give rise to a notable increase in casual workers, typically paid weekly. In three of the past four elections, the increase in the estimated number of people receiving weekly salaries during the election month was around 48 000 to 65 000.”

ALSO READ: Salaries slightly down in March but could improve

Private pensions also lower

The BankservAfrica Private Pensions Index (BPPI), tracking the pension payments to about 700 000 pensioners, was also lower in both nominal and real terms in April 2024, but remained comfortably above year-ago levels.

“The average nominal private pension moderated to R10 639 in April 2024 compared to the previous month’s R10 745, still 6.6% higher than a year earlier.

Similarly, in real terms, the average BankservAfrica BPPI increased by 1.2% in April 2024, compared to a year earlier, sustaining its ongoing track record to beat inflation,” Naidoo says.

The BankservAfrica data signals that the purchasing power of pensioners represented in the BankservAfrica sample, predominantly made up of former government employees, has been preserved amid the still elevated inflation environment.

“With a nominal amount of about R8 billion paid to pensioners in April, this category’s financial well-being is important for the economy.” 

ALSO READ: SAs getting poorer as higher inflation affects salaries

Cumulative value of salaries and pensions increased

The cumulative value of total take-home pay and private pension payments processed by BankservAfrica in April 2024, which indicates the overall spending ability in the economy, increased by 5.3% in nominal terms.

However, it slipped marginally in real terms, compared to a year earlier on non-seasonally adjusted and smoothed basis.

“Overall, although mediocre economic growth of 1.1% is forecast for 2024, it will be somewhat better than the 0.6% reflected in the previous year. It will be influenced by notably less load shedding, moderating average inflation and the anticipated start to the interest rate cutting cycle later this year, albeit an expected measured cutting cycle,” Kruger says.

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