March 9, 2018 / 12:02 AM / 9 months ago

Japan Jan real wages fall at fastest pace in 6 months

    TOKYO, March 9 (Reuters) - Japanese workers' wages fell in
January at the fastest pace in six months after adjustments for
inflation in a worrying sign that consumer spending will lose
momentum this year.
    Falling real wages suggest the government will struggle to
convince companies to raise wages by 3 percent or more this year
at annual negotiations with labour unions, which are expected to
conclude next week at large companies.
    The fall in real wages also shows the Bank of Japan's 2
percent inflation target is likely to remain a distant goal.
    Real wages in January fell 0.9 percent from the same period
a year ago, labour ministry data showed on Friday. That followed
a 0.3 percent annual decrease in December and marked the biggest
decline since a 1.1 percent annual decrease in July 2017.
    Nominal cash earnings in January rose 0.7 percent from the
same period a year earlier, slower than a 0.9 percent annual
increase in the previous month, the data showed.
    Special payments, which include bonuses, in January rose 9.3
percent on year, following a 1.0 percent annual increase in
    Overtime pay, a barometer of strength in corporate activity,
was unchanged in January from the same period a year ago, versus
a 0.6 percent annual increase in December.
    At a two-day meeting ending later on Friday, the BOJ is
widely expected to maintain its massive stimulus programme and 
projection that the economy is headed for a moderate expansion.
    Falling real wages suggest the central bank's attempts to
achieve higher inflation continue to struggle after almost five
years of massive money printing.
    The following table shows preliminary data for monthly
incomes and numbers of workers in January:
   Payments               (amount)     (yr/yr pct change)
 Total cash earnings   271,640 yen      +0.7
 -Monthly wage         258,126 yen      +0.3
  -Regular pay         238,811 yen      +0.2
  -Overtime pay         19,315 yen       0.0
 -Special payments      13,514 yen      +9.3
 Number of workers      (million)    (yr/yr pct change)
 Overall                50.586 mln      +2.6
 -General employees     34.812 mln      +2.1
 -Part-time employees   15.775 mln      +3.7
    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 Jacqueline Wong)
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