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Average SA worker supports 3 others

Jan 14 2013 12:13 Sapa
Striking farm workers demand that their daily wage

Striking farm workers demand that their daily wage be increased to R150 from R69. (AFP)

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Johannesburg - Every working person in South Africa supports him- or herself and an average of three people, the SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) said on Monday.

A survey conducted by SAIRR showed that the general dependency has dropped among South Africans in the past 15 years; however, Africans remain the racial group with the highest dependent average.

"Dependency among Africans has come down significantly from a high of nearly six people depending on every employed person in 1997 to just over three in 2012.

"Nevertheless, with high levels of unemployment... dependency [of Africans] on the employed is still much higher than for other races," said Lucy Holborn, research manager at the institute.

The report, to be released next week, showed that in 1994 there were 3.8 people dependent on every employed person, a figure which had fallen to 2.8 by 2012.

These figures include those officially unemployed, those who choose not to work, and those too young or old to work.

Holborn said there are significant racial discrepancies in levels of dependency.

Among the African population there are 3.2 people dependent on every employed person, among coloured people 2.1, among Indians 1.7, and among white South Africans 1.4.

She said given that median monthly earnings for Africans are about a third of those of whites, and that Africans on average support more non-working dependants, it is not surprising that the country is witnessing strikes for higher wages.

"However, the demanded wage increases are unlikely to significantly dent the poverty and poor living conditions...

"Therefore, while higher wages may ease frustrations in the short term, fuller employment is the only long-term solution to poverty and poor living conditions," said Holborn.

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