Income and pensions still beat inflation, for now
While the South African economic outlook for 2016 is bearish, banked incomes are still telling a positive story.
The BankservAfrica Disposable Salaries Index (BDSI) and BankservAfrica Private Pensions Index (BPPI) are excellent indicators of current retail spending and consumer behaviour and for now remain positive, BankservAfrica said today.
“According to the data seen passing through the BankservAfrica payment system last month, the average take-home pay in the formal sector has increased by 8.7% compared to last year. This means that, despite the inflationary increase, take-home pay also rose by about 2.3% above the inflation rate to an average of R13 511 in January 2016,” says Dr Caroline Belrose, Head of Knowledge and Risk Services at BankservAfrica.
Banked pensions on average increased by 6.9% on a year ago to R6 131. “The increase in pensions in the last two months has been at the same rate, but both are the slowest nominal increases since July 2014. Pension increases were still higher than inflation, but only by about 0.6%,” says Belrose.
However, the ability for salaries to stay ahead of inflation is expected to come under pressure as higher taxes and ‘bracket creep’ are likely to have a negative impact on take-home pay increases.
“By definition, ‘typical take-home pay’ or ‘typical bankable salary’ refers to the money that the person in the middle of a large group gets paid into a bank account. Instead of relying on the average for that group, this typical amount is often a better reflection of the changes in income, as the average may be pushed up due to a small percentage of highly paid earners getting large increases,” explains Mike Schüssler, Chief Economist at Economists dotcoza. “For four months in a row the typical salaries and pensions have increased at a higher rate than the average.
” Over the last two years – apart from a couple of anomalous months – the typical pension has outpaced the average pension by an average of 1.9%. The typical bankable pension has increased to R 4 335 per month which is nearly R855 more than in January 2014. Meanwhile, the typical salary reached R9 894 per month, although it is important to be mindful that this number may be slightly disproportionately high due to sales commissions that get paid in January after the December retail boom.
Although pensioners in this dataset still only get about 44% of the average take-home salary, the typical pension has increased at a faster rate than the take-home salary for the past 11 months.
“It will also be interesting to see the role that the stock market has on pension pay-outs as we continue into 2016 with a weak equity market. The data suggests that that pensions change on past market performance so weak markets may still have a delayed impact on pensions,” concludes Schüssler.
Contact Wendy Fourie for more information: WendyF@bankservafrica.com or 011 497 4119
Notes to the editor:
The BDSI data is smoothed on a three month moving average basis and adjusted for both weekly payments and pension payments. The average pension payments are only about 60% of those of people in employ, so the BDSI focuses on the employed and their salary payouts. We therefore adjusted the monthly numbers to take this into account. The average disposable salary is adjusted on a constant basis for these two factors. December is a very high payout month and somewhat distorts monthly averages, but we believe that the year-on-year trends remain intact.
Similar to the BankservAfrica Disposable Salary Index (BDSI), the Private Pension Index is an income gauge of money paid into bank accounts from pension schemes. While we do not know the exact number of people, we do know the exact number of beneficiary accounts and this shows that there are about 633 000 monthly payments (for 2014 on average) going through the BankservAfrica system, which have been identified as pension payments.
This number does change slightly from month to month but out of the known universe of 810 000 private pension payments, it appears that the BankservAfrica payments system captures over 80% of the pension payment accounts. This indicates that the sample size of private pensions via the BankservAfrica payment system is extremely good.
We do not consider payments over R100 000 in size as these would typically be lump sum pay-outs of the amount that people can take out of their pension. These could also be pay-outs of the remaining pension in an account to family of a deceased. This remaining amount can often average well over R350 000 for each payment and, as with the BDSI, these payments do tend to distort the averages at certain times of the year. For 2014 these exclusions reduced the number of accounts considered from 633 000 to 628 000.
Payment analysis is conducted from the second of each month to the first of the following month inclusive as payment dates can vary when a month ends on a Sunday. A three month moving average is then calculated for trend analysis.
BankservAfrica is a payment-enabling organisation operating between the various South African banks with a very secure messaging environment in place. Economists dotcoza is an economic consultancy that helped develop the BPPI.