Japan real wages fall for a fifth straight month in May

TOKYO (Reuters) - Inflation-adjusted real wages in Japan fell in May from a year earlier, a fifth straight month of decline that raises worries about the strength of consumer spending.

FILE PHOTO: Office buildings are seen in the night at a business district in Tokyo, Japan, November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

Real wages fell 1.0% in May, labor ministry data showed on Tuesday, after a downwardly revised 1.4% annual decline in April.

Monthly wage data showed nominal total cash earnings in May slipped an annual 0.2% after a revised 0.3% fall in April.

Regular pay, which accounts for the bulk of monthly wages, fell an annual 0.6% in May, the fifth straight month of decline.

One-off special payments climbed 2.5% in May from a year earlier, recovering from a revised 5.3% annual decline in the previous month.

Overtime pay also grew 0.8% in May from a year earlier, after dropping a revised 1.9% in April.

Revelations this year that labor ministry officials used faulty polling methods which forced revisions cast doubt on wage data issued by the ministry from 2004 to 2017.

The ministry said in January it used faulty polling methods in compiling monthly wage data - which covers about 33,000 firms - and had failed to accurately depict the actual strength of wage growth.

The error has made it harder to gauge the trend for wages.

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 labor ministry's website at: here

Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Richard Borsuk