Lameez Omarjee
Johannesburg – The average adult South African is poorer in 2016 than in 2015, according to research by Standard Bank.

Standard Bank released its 2016 income estimates on Wednesday. The research measures income changes across different income groups since 2011. The bulk (70%) of income comes from salaries and wages. The study is based on the adult population aged 15 and above. South Africa has an estimated adult population of 39.7 million.

It shows that income per person essentially declined 1.3% in 2016. This is down from an average of R76 578 to R75 541. Total personal income is estimated to be over R3trn, up from R2.8trn in 2015; this is a nominal growth of 6.5%. Taking into account inflation of 6.3% in 2016, real growth was only at 0.2%.

Since 2011, income per person has only grown at an average of 0.4%.

“These declining income levels are against the backdrop of the challenging economic environment and are apparent across all income groups earning above R12 700 per annum,” the report said.

Those in the lowest income group, earning between R0 and R12 700, received a 2.2% increase in income. Since 2011, income has increased by 22.7%. However, those in the highest income group (earning more than R1.69m) have become poorer, with income per person declining by 8.8% between 2015 and 2016. The income has declined 30.6% since 2011.

The size of this group has declined 1.7% since 2011. Per capita income has risen 19%, from as low as R807 to R989 per annum. This group accounts for almost half the adult population.

Income groups

The size of higher income groups have grown only marginally. The affluent group, which earn between R787 001 to R1.69m, has grown by 0.54%. Average income per person in 2016 was R960 000, lower than R1.2m reported in 2011.

The size of the wealthy income group, those earning above R1.69m, has increased by 0.05%. The average income per person is estimated at R4.53m, down from R6.53m reported in 2011.

Within these groups, real income per person declined between 15% and 30% since 2011. This is because the pace of income growth has not kept up with the move of the population from lower income groups to affluent groups.

There has been little growth (0.1%) within the middle income segment (those earning between R51 001 to R382 000 per year). Income per person declined by an average of 4.5% between 2011 and 2016. This is because income growth has not kept up with inflation, the report said.