There has been very little detailed exploration of the relationship between wage income and household inequality in South Africa despite the relevance of this issue for many contemporary growth and development policy debates. This article is directed at such an analysis. It uses a decomposition of household income inequality by income components to highlight the dominance of wage income in driving overall income inequality. This is followed by a detailed discussion of the distribution of the unemployed across different wage-earning household categories. Many of the unemployed are seen to depend on wage earners within their households, but a significant percentage of the unemployed, especially in rural areas, have no direct link to labor market earners. In such cases, the creation of employment is essential. The conclusion explores policy implications by linking our empirical findings to South African debates over the quality versus the quantity of employment.