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--Japan May Average Wages +2.1% Y/Y, 10th Straight Rise
--Japan May Real Average Wages +1.3% Y/Y; Apr -0.2%
--Japan May Base Wages +1.5% Y/Y, 14th Straight Rise
--Japan May Overtime Pay +1.6% Y/Y, 7th Straight Rise
--Japan May Special Pay 14.6% Y/Y, 10th Rise in 12 Months
     TOKYO (MNI) - The average wage growth in Japan surged in May on a calendar
factor and a drop in the share of lowly paid part-time workers, following a
temporary jump in March and a slowdown to below the recent trend growth in
April, preliminary data released Friday by the Ministry of Health, Labour and
Welfare showed.
     The key points from the Monthly Labour Survey:
     * Total monthly average cash earnings per regular employee in Japan surged
2.1% on year to Y275,443, posting the 10th straight year-on-year rise, compared
to the recent median growth rate of +0.9%. It followed a 0.6% rise and a rare
2.0% jump in March.
     * There was one more working day in May, compared to a year before, and the
share of lowly paid part-time declined in the initial estimate. "The 2.1%
increase in total cash earnings may be revised down by 0.2 to 0.3 percentage
point when additional information from surveyed firms is added later this
month," a ministry official told MNI.
     * 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 1.3% on year in May after falling 0.2%
in April, marking the third year-on-year rise in the past 12 months. The recent
weak trend was caused by the rising cost of living. The total CPI minus imputed
rents rose 0.8% on year in May, with the pace of increase decelerating from a
peak of +1.8% in February as fresh food prices eased after a surge late last
     * Base wages, the key to a steady recovery in cash earnings, rose 1.5 % in
May from a year earlier, the 14th straight year-on-year rise after rising 0.9%
in April. It was the fastest pace of increase since June 1997.
     * Hourly base wages of regular employees working part time gained 1.7% on
year after +2.2% in the previous month while base wages for full-time workers
rose at a slower pace of 1.4% after rising 0.9% in April.
     * Overtime pay rose 1.6% on year in May, the seventh straight y/y rise
after rising 1.8% in April. Overtime working hours were unchanged on year for
the second straight month. Regular working hours rose 0.9% on year, the first
y/y rise in four months after -1.3% in April.
     * Bonuses and other special pay rebounded 14.6% from a year before, marking
the 10th year-on-year rise in the past 12 months after -8.3% in April. This
category tends to fluctuate widely.
--MNI Tokyo Bureau; tel: +81 90-4670-5309; email: