This paper discusses the changing profile of rural livelihoods in South Africa using the National Income Dynamics Study Waves 1 – 3 data (Southern Africa Labour & Development Research Unit (SALDRU), 2013a, 2013b, 2013c). The rural sector is undergoing a form of compositional change, with the literature suggesting that a phenomenon of de-agrarianisation is taking place as households become more dependent on government grants while moving away from agricultural-based activities. Furthermore, Tribal Authority Areas (TAAs) retain a communal form of land tenure that implies very different social and behavioural norms in these areas compared to formal rural areas. We find that there are indeed very different labour market, migration and subsistence agricultural trends between TAAs and formal rural areas. For the rural sector in general, selected findings include that rural migrants who have moved to urban areas between 2008-2012 have a higher probability of being employed than rural stayers; that among the employed population, the major transition out of agriculture was to the transport, storage and communication sector while the major transition into agricultural employment was from the wholesale & retail sector; and finally that there is indeed evidence that de-agrarianisation is taking place in the NIDS rural sample, with individuals much more likely to transition out of either commercial or subsistence agricultural activities than to start doing these activities.