September 6, 2017 / 12:05 AM / 10 months ago

Japan July wages fall yr/yr as summer bonus payments wane

    TOKYO, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Wages for Japanese workers fell in
July from a year earlier due to a drop in summer bonus payments,
casting doubts over the sustainability of a recent improvement
in consumer spending.
    Wages fell in both nominal and inflation-adjusted real
terms, labour ministry data showed on Wednesday.
    Wage earners' nominal cash earnings fell an annual 0.3
percent, reversing from the prior month's revised 0.4 percent
gain and the first decline since May 2016.
    Reflecting a 0.6 percent rise in consumer prices,
inflation-adjusted real wages fell 0.8 percent, down for the
second straight month and the biggest decline since June 2015.
    The data is likely to raise questions over the central
bank's assertions that a tightening labour market will
eventually lead to higher wages and a resulting increase in
consumer spending, which will boost economic activity and
    But a ministry official said a broader, improving trend was
still intact.    
    "Excluding the decline in special payments, wages remain in
moderate increase," a ministry official in charge of compiling
the data told Reuters.
    The ministry will issue later this year the average figures
for summer bonuses, which have been paid in June, July and
August, the official added. 
    Special payments -- predominantly summer bonuses -- fell 2.2
percent in July from a year ago, the first drop since January, 
as some manufacturers such as automakers cut the amount of bonus
payments as yen's gains until late last year weighed on profits.
    Regular pay, which determines base wages, rose 0.5 percent
in the year to July, rising for a fourth straight month.
    Overtime pay, a barometer of strength in corporate activity,
rose 0.1 percent year-on-year in July, after a revised 0.1
percent drop in the previous month.
    The following table shows preliminary data for monthly
incomes and numbers of workers in July:
   Payments             (amount)     (yr/yr pct change)
 Total cash earnings   371,808 yen      -0.3
 -Monthly wage         261,652 yen      +0.5
  -Regular pay         242,487 yen      +0.5
  -Overtime pay         19,165 yen      +0.1
 -Special payments     110,156 yen      -2.2
 Number of workers      (million)    (yr/yr pct change)
 Overall                50.375 mln      +2.8
 -General employees     34.952 mln      +2.8
 -Part-time employees   15.423 mln      +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 labour ministry's website: 

 (Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Kim Coghill)
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