Purse purge: Formal sector pay takes a knock, but employment slowly ticks up

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Formal sector jobs data was released by Stats SA on Tuesday. Picture:  Nardus Engelbrecht/Gallo Images via Getty Images
Formal sector jobs data was released by Stats SA on Tuesday. Picture: Nardus Engelbrecht/Gallo Images via Getty Images
  • Basic salary and wages decreased by R22.9 billion or 3.4% between December 2019 and December 2020. 
  • However, on a quarter-on-quarter basis, salaries and wages ticked up by 3% or R18.6 billion.
  • Formal sector employment for the fourth quarter increased by 76 000.


Formal sector jobs grew by 76 000 during the fourth quarter, data from Stats SA show.

Stats SA on Tuesday released the quarterly employment statistics - which covers non-agricultural employment - for the fourth quarter of 2020. Economists had expected the latest statistics to reflect the weak economic environment amid the tightening of lockdown restrictions due to the second wave of Covid-19 infections in late December 2020.

On a quarter-on-quarter basis, employment improved by 0.8% - the market consensus was growth of 1%.

Industries such as trade, community services, and business services drove job growth. The construction, manufacturing, transport, and mining industries however shed jobs during the quarter.

On a year-on-year basis, between December 2019 and December 2020, total employment decreased by 5.8%. The market consensus was for a decline of 5%.

Full-time and part-time employment both decreased on a year-on-year basis.

Total gross earnings decreased by R36.1 billion or 4.6% between December 2019 and December 2020, Stats SA said.


Basic salary and wages decreased by R22.9 billion or 3.4% between December 2019 and December 2020. However, on a quarter-on-quarter basis, salaries and wages ticked up by 3% or R18.6 billion.

Bonus and overtime similarly declined on a year-on-year basis, by 12.7% or R13.2 billion. On a quarter-on-quarter basis, it lifted by 85.4% or by R41.7 billion.  

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