Understanding the composition and wage structure of the South African labour market is crucial in the progressing national minimum wage debate in the country. This study highlights the centrality of wages in household income, and in determining inequality and poverty levels in the county. It then charts key trends in the labour market, before presenting a snapshot of the composition and earnings of the workforce in the current environment. A definition for a “working-poor” threshold is developed in the paper by linking individual earnings to household poverty. Finally, we consider the differential coverage that a national minimum wage would have on different sectors and demographic groups in the economy.