March 5, 2020 / 11:33 PM / a month ago

Japan's real wages post first rise in four months in January

    TOKYO, March 6 (Reuters) - Japan's inflation-adjusted real
wages rose for the first time in four months in January,
official data showed on Friday, offering a hopeful sign for the
economy as risks from the coronavirus crisis overshadow the
    Japan's economy is under pressure from the hit to tourism
and output amid the coronavirus outbreak, which has emerged as a
threat to growth in the current quarter.
    Real wages, a gauge of household purchasing power, rose 0.7%
in January from a year earlier, labour ministry data showed,
following a revised 1.1% decline in the previous month.
    The uptick marked the first rise since September, the data
    Improvements in wages could boost consumer sentiment and
help fuel a domestic demand-led recovery, offsetting the
coronavirus outbreak and the government decision to raises taxes
nationwide in October.    
    The monthly wage data showed nominal total cash earnings
rose 1.5% in the year to January after a revised 0.2% decline in
the previous month.
    One-off special payments advanced 10.4% in January after a
revised 0.4% decline in December. Regular pay - or base salary,
which makes up most of total cash earnings and determines a wage
trend - grew 1.4%, the data showed.
    Overtime pay, a barometer of strength in corporate activity,
dropped 1.8% in January from a year earlier, down for a fifth
straight month.
    Revelations last year that labour ministry officials used
faulty polling methods cast doubt on the accuracy of the
ministry's wage data from 2004 to 2017. The flaw has made it
harder to gauge the actual wage trend.             
    The following table shows preliminary data for monthly
incomes and numbers of workers in January:
   Payments             (amount)                (yr/yr % change)
 Total cash earnings   276,520 yen ($2,588.17)      +1.5
 -Monthly wage         262,555 yen                  +1.2
  -Regular pay         243,686 yen                  +1.4
  -Overtime pay         18,869 yen                  -1.8
 -Special payments      13,965 yen                  10.4
 Number of workers      (million)    (yr/yr % change)
 Overall                51.229 mln      +1.9
 -General employees     34.901 mln      +1.8
 -Part-time employees   16.328 mln      +2.0

    The ministry defines "workers" as 1) those who were employed
for more than one month at a company that employed more than
five people, or 2) those who were employed on a daily basis or
had less than a one-month contract but had worked more than 18
days during the two months before the survey was conducted, at a
company that employs more than five people.
    To view the full tables, see the labour ministry's website
at: here

($1 = 106.8400 yen)

 (Reporting by Daniel Leussink, editing by Larry King)
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