Japanese wages, on an annual inflation-adjusted basis, dropped in December for the first time in a year, government data showed on Monday, a setback for hopes that consumer spending can increase and help lift economic growth.
The decline was caused by a rise in the cost of living, which outpaced nominal pay hikes, officials said. Higher prices for items such as fresh vegetables have increased living costs.
The labor ministry data showed inflation-adjusted real wages dropped 0.4 percent in December from a year earlier, following a revised flat reading in November.
In nominal terms, wage earners’ cash earnings rose 0.1 percent year-on-year in December, following a 0.5 percent gain in November. Special payments – most of which consist of winter bonus – fell 0.1 percent.
The data came as labor unionists and business leaders kick off the annual spring wage negotiations. These are expected to produce smaller wage gains than last year due to increased uncertainty on the global outlook.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called on business leaders to support a sustainable economic recovery by raising employee wages, but it remains a struggle to accelerate pay hikes despite the tight job market and high corporate profits.