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Repeats Story Initially Transmitted at 05:34 GMT May 9/01:34 EST May 9
--Japan Mar Average Wages +2.1% Y/Y, Nearly 15-Year High
--Japan Mar Real Average Wages +0.8% Y/Y, 1st Rise in 4 Months
--Japan Mar Base Wages +1.3% Y/Y, Over 20-Year High
--Japan Mar Overtime Pay +1.8% Y/Y, 5th Straight Rise
--Japan Mar Special Pay +12.8% Y/Y, 8th Straight Rise
     TOKYO (MNI) - Preliminary average wage data from the Monthly Labour Survey
released Wednesday by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.
     * Total monthly average cash earnings per regular employee in Japan surged
2.1% on year to Y284,464 in March, posting the eighth straight year-on-year rise
after a 1.0% rise in February and compared to zero growth a year before. It was
the highest pace of increase since June 2003, when total wages also gained 2.1%.
"It seems to have been caused by some temporary factors. We have to see the
development for a few more months to say whether the wage growth is picking up,"
a ministry official told MNI.
     * Base wages maintained a gradual uptrend and some firms paid lump-sum
allowances and temporary bonuses based on high earnings in fiscal 2017 that
ended in March. A rare sharp decline in the share of part-time workers also
contributed to the higher per-employee pay but the decline may turn out to be a
slight rise when the monthly survey results are revised later this month, the
official said. 
     * The ministry left its long-held assessment unchanged, saying wages have
been increasing "moderately." Companies are generally cautious about raising
base wages amid uncertainty over global and domestic economic growth. Some
sectors are raising wages to help alleviate serious labor shortages.
     * In real terms, average wages rose 0.8% on year in March, marking the
first year-on-year rise in four months and the second gain in the past 12 months
after falling 0.8% in February. The recent weak trend was caused by the rising
cost of living. The total CPI minus imputed rents rose 1.3% on year in March,
rising more than 1% for the fourth straight month, but the pace of increase
decelerated from +1.8% in February as fresh food prices eased after a surge late
last year.
     * Base wages, the key to a steady recovery in cash earnings, rose 1.3 % in
March from a year earlier, the 12th straight year-on-year rise after +0.6% in
February. It was the fastest pace of increase since +1.3% in July 1997. Hourly
base wages of regular employees working part time gained 1.9% on year after
+2.0% in the previous month while base wages for full-time workers rose at a
slower pace of 1.1% after rising 0.8% in February.
     * Overtime pay rose 1.8% on year in March, the fifth straight y/y rise
after rising 0.4% in February. But overtime working hours fell 1.7% for the
third straight year-on-year drop after falling 0.9% the previous month. Regular
working hours fell 1.5% on year, the second consecutive y/y fall after +2.4% in
February.
     * Bonuses and other special pay increased 12.8% from a year before, marking
the eighth straight year-on-year rise after +25.7% in February. This category
tends to fluctuate widely.
--MNI Tokyo Bureau; tel: +81 90-4670-5309; email: max.sato@marketnews.com

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