April 6, 2018 / 12:02 AM / in a year

Japan Feb real wages fall for third straight month

    TOKYO, April 6 (Reuters) - Japanese workers' wages fell for
the third consecutive month in February after adjustments for
inflation, in a worrying sign that consumer spending could slow
as salaries fail to keep pace with gains in prices.
    The data also reinforces the perception that the Bank of
Japan's 2 percent inflation target is likely to remain a distant
goal, suggesting it will not begin to scale back its massive
stimulus progamme any time soon.
    Real wages fell 0.5 percent in February from the same period
a year ago, labour ministry data showed on Friday. That followed
a revised 0.6 percent annual decrease in January.
    Nominal cash earnings rose 1.3 percent in February from the
same period a year earlier, faster than a revised 1.2 percent
annual increase in the previous month.
    Overtime pay, a barometer of strength in corporate activity,
rose an annual 1.0 percent in February versus a revised 0.1
percent increase in January.
    Special payments, which include bonuses, rose 33.0 percent
year-on-year in February, following a revised 2.9 percent annual
increase in January. The rise in February was exaggerated by the
fact that the size of special payments was small compared to
overall pay.
    The decline in real wages comes one day after BOJ data
showed household sentiment worsened and inflation expectations
weakened in March, suggesting it will be difficult for the
central bank to convince consumers to be less cautious about
their spending.             
    The following table shows preliminary data for monthly
incomes and numbers of workers in February:
   Payments               (amount)     (yr/yr pct change)
 Total cash earnings   266,466 yen      +1.3
 -Monthly wage         261,319 yen      +0.9
  -Regular pay         241,532 yen      +0.9
  -Overtime pay         19,787 yen      +1.0
 -Special payments       5,147 yen     +33.0
 Number of workers      (million)    (yr/yr pct change)
 Overall                49.485 mln      +1.9
 -General employees     34.332 mln      +2.1
 -Part-time employees   15.153 mln      +1.8
    The ministry defines "workers" as 1) those who are employed
for more than one month at a firm that employs more than five
people, or 2) those who are employed on a daily basis or have
less than a one-month contract but had worked more than 18 days
during the two months before the survey was conducted at a firm
that employs more than five people.
    To view the full tables, see the labour ministry's website
at:  here

 (Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Kim Coghill)
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