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Kezia Lilenstein, Ingrid Woolard and Murray Leibbrandt

In South Africa, finding employment is generally regarded as the primary means of escaping poverty. However, the extent of income sharing, coupled with high incidence of low-wage work, may leave even those who find employment unable to ‘work themselves out’ of poverty at the household level. Yet, despite a proliferation of poverty studies, there has been little work focusing on poverty amongst employed South Africans. This chapter therefore provides a baseline descriptive analysis of the markers of poverty among the employed and their households. The authors find that in South Africa there are specific, historically disadvantaged groups which are most likely to suffer from in-work poverty. These include African and Coloured workers, females, those with low education levels, those living in rural areas and those in more temporary forms of employment. While both wages and household composition are important markers of in-work poverty, the risk of poverty is greatest when these two markers intersect, with even ‘high’-wage workers at high risk of poverty if they live in households where their income is shared with many non-working household members.