November 7, 2018 / 12:20 AM / a year ago

Decline in Japan September real wages bodes ill for consumer spending

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese workers’ inflation-adjusted real wages fell in September for a second straight month, government data showed, in a worrying sign that rising gasoline prices and higher costs of living are depriving consumers of purchasing power.

September’s 0.4 percent drop in real wages from a year earlier followed a revised 0.7 percent decline in August, labor ministry data showed on Wednesday.

The data should be worrying to the Bank of Japan as it counts on wage growth to generate a virtuous cycle of household income and spending needed to spur inflation to its 2 percent goal after more than five years of massive monetary stimulus.

Summer bonuses boosted real wages in June, but since then real wages have been weakening, as consumer prices have crept up on the back of rising prices of gasoline and fresh vegetables, which offset gains in nominal pay.

Nominal cash earnings rose 1.1 percent year-on-year in September, following a revised 0.8 percent gain in August.

Regular pay, which accounts for the bulk of monthly wages, grew 0.8 percent in the year to September, while one-off special payments, including bonuses, grew 13.3 percent.

Overtime pay, a barometer of strength in corporate activity, rose an annual 0.4 percent in September versus a revised 1.3 percent increase in August.

Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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