Wages, spending down for fifth straight month in Japan

Wages, spending down for fifth straight month in Japan - © Franck Robichon, EPA

Tokyo (dpa) – Japan’s inflation-adjusted monthly wages and household spending fell from a year earlier for the fifth straight month in January, the government said Tuesday, adding to doubts over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies.

The country’s household spending slipped 3.1 per cent from a year earlier in January, while monthly wages declined 1.3 per cent despite reported pay rises at large companies, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said.

Abe took office as premier in December 2012, vowing to reinvigorate the world’s third-largest economy and overcome years of deflation. However, the premier has struggled to achieve long-term economic growth with his policies, dubbed Abenomics.

The economy shrank at an annualized rate of 1.4 per cent in the October-to-December period for the second contraction in three quarters amid weak consumption.

Consumer spending has been sluggish since Abe’s government introduced a controversial sales tax increase in April 2014, from 5 to 8 per cent.

Tokyo, however, saw a glimmer of hope in unemployment data.

The country’s jobless rate declined to 3.2 per cent in January for the first fall in three months, the ministry said.

Manufacturers saw an increase of 380,000 jobs to employ a total of 10.78 million people, and the hotel and food service industries added 200,000 jobs to reach 3.97 million, the ministry said.

Critics say Abe’s government has failed to deal with Japan’s longstanding problem of unstable forms of employment, especially among women and young people.

The number of temporary and part-time jobs rose by 480,000 from a year earlier to 20.37 million, accounting for about 38 per cent of the country’s workforce, the ministry’s survey showed.

Meanwhile, the availability of jobs – measured as the ratio of job offers per job seeker – climbed to 1.28 in January, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare said.



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