Japan Nov real wages fall for 3rd month as inflation hits stagnant nominal pay


FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians cross a street at a business district in Tokyo February 20, 2013. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
FILE PHOTO: Pedestrians cross a street at a business district in Tokyo February 20, 2013. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s real wages fell in November for a third month as inflation outstripped stagnant nominal wages, a government data showed.

The data came days after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called on business lobbies and unions to work together to raise workers’ wages, to achieve a cycle of economic growth and wealth distribution he had pledged to win the October general election.

Inflation-adjusted real wages, a key measure of households’ purchasing power, slipped 1.6% in November from a year earlier, the labour ministry said on Friday.

The drop was faster than a 0.7% fall in October and marked the biggest decline since December 2020.

Japan’s consumer inflation has been accelerating on rising energy and food prices. The core consumer price index (CPI), a measure closely watched by the Bank of Japan, rose in November at the fastest pace in nearly two years.

The CPI figure the labour ministry uses to calculate real wages - which sets a different base year, includes fresh food prices but excludes owners’ equivalent rent - gained 1.7% in November, the data showed.

Meanwhile, nominal total cash earnings stalled in November, with a 0.0% change from a year earlier, which snapped an eight-month growth streak and followed a 0.2% gain in October, according to the data.

The slowdown in nominal wages was due to the increasing share of part-time workers who receive lower pay, a health ministry official said. Part-timers accounted for 31.87% of all workers in November, the highest rate since February 2019, he said.

Regular pay or base salary - the majority component of total cash earnings that determines a wage trend - was up 0.3% in November, after a 0.2% drop in October.

Overtime pay, a barometer of corporate activity’s strength, rose 2.7% year-on-year in November, rising for the eighth straight month, following an upwardly revised 2.3% advance in the previous month.

Special payments, which mainly consist of volatile one-off bonuses, fell 7.9% in November from a year earlier, the data showed.

The following table shows preliminary data for monthly incomes and numbers of workers in November:


Payments (amount) (yr/yr % change)

Total cash earnings 280,398 yen($2,422.44) 0.0

-Monthly wage 264,632 yen +0.5

-Regular pay 246,063 yen +0.3

-Overtime pay 18,569 yen +2.7

-Special payments 15,766 yen -7.9


Number of workers (million) (yr/yr % change)

Overall 52.219 mln +1.2

-General employees 35.579 mln +0.6

-Part-time employees 16.641 mln +2.3


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.

($1 = 115.7500 yen)

(Reporting by Kantaro Komiya; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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