March 31, 2008 / 1:35 AM / 12 years ago

Japan Feb earnings, overtime pay up 2nd mth in row

 TOKYO, March 31 (Reuters) - Japanese wage earners' total cash
earnings rose 1.3 percent in February from a year earlier while
overtime pay saw the fastest growth since late 2006, due partly
to a rise in full-time workers, government data showed on Monday.
 Japanese firms have been reluctant to share their profit
gains with workers as they face global competition and lack
pricing power. But companies also face the need to keep skilled
workers as full-time staff, a government official said.
 The number of general employees rose 2.4 percent, the fastest
pace of increase since June 1992 when it was up 2.6 percent,
while part-timers were up 0.9 percent, the slowest pace in two
 "It seems firms are facing worries about the slowing economy
but still want to woo skilled workers by giving them full-time
posts," said Yoshiki Kobayashi, an official at the Ministry of
Health, Labour and Welfare.
 Overtime pay, a barometer of corporate activity, grew 2.6
percent to mark the second straight month of increases. The rise,
the fastest since November 2006, was also helped by an extra day
in February for the leap year, which boosted working hours, he
 Still, analysts say growing signs of an economic slowdown and
rising raw materials costs mean small firms, which employ seven
out of every 10 workers, may keep a lid on wages as they suffer
from a squeeze in profit margins.
 Year-end bonuses stood at 417,507 yen last year, down 2.8
percent from a year earlier. It was the first drop in four years
due to falls among small firms that employ less than 500 workers.
 Total cash earnings, which include overtime pay, monthly
wages and special payments, stood at 274,521 yen ($2,774) in
February, marking the second straight month of annual increase.
 That followed a revised 1.6 percent rise in January, which
matched a recent high hit in December 2005.
 The following table shows preliminary data for monthly
incomes and numbers of workers in February:
                        FEB            FEB        JAN
 Payments (yen)                          yr/yr change (pct)
 Total cash earnings   274,521 yen       +1.3       +1.6
Monthly wage        270,442 yen       +1.0       +0.7
 -Regular pay       250,347 yen       +0.9       +0.7
 -Overtime pay       20,095 yen       +2.6       +0.1
 -Special payments    4,079 yen      +28.1      +22.6
 --------------------------------------------------------- Number
of workers (million)
  Overall                 44.528 mln     +2.0       +1.9
  -general employees      33.024 mln     +2.4       +1.8
  -part-time employees    11.504 mln     +0.9       +2.4
 ---------------------------------------------------------    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 ministry's Web site at:
 (Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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