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Japanese Men’s Allowance at 1982 Low as They Await Abenomics

Japanese Husbands’ Allowance at 1982 Low as Men Await Abenomics
A man walks through an underpass in Tokyo. The average monthly wage for a Japanese worker was 314,127 last year, according to the Labor Ministry. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

The average Japanese husband’s monthly allowance slumped to the lowest level since 1982 at the start of the financial year as workers await the dividends promised by Abenomics.

Salarymen’s spending money, typically set by wives managing family budgets, was 38,457 yen ($386), down 3 percent from last year and less than half the 1990 peak, according to Shinsei Bank Ltd., a Tokyo-based lender whose data go back to 1979. The survey of 2,000 people was done April 20th and 22nd via the Internet, the report published June 28 showed.

With Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledging to revive the world’s third-largest economy through unprecedented monetary expansion, fiscal stimulus and business deregulation, salarymen allotted more of their budget to going out drinking. They went out an average 2.2 times a month, spending 3,474 yen a time, up 21 percent from last year, the Shinsei report showed.

“Husband’s allowance is the most lagging indicator of Japan’s economy, while female spending is the first to increase,” said Hiroshi Miyazaki, senior economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. in Tokyo, who says his own ration has been unchanged for a while. “Japanese salary men don’t have to be pessimistic. Their pocket money should gradually increase to reflect Japan’s recovery.”

Stagnant Wages

In a sign that the benefits of a growing economy and rising company profits aren’t yet flowing through to workers, salaries were unchanged in May from a year earlier, the Labor Ministry said in Tokyo today. The average monthly wage for a Japanese worker was 314,127 yen last year, according to the ministry.

The government will create a panel to encourage companies to raise wages, Yuzuru Takeuchi, parliamentary secretary for finance, said in an interview last month. Wages fell or were unchanged in 11 of 12 months through May even as Japanese companies’ stockpile of cash rose to a record, exceeding the size of Italy’s economy, Bank of Japan data for the first quarter showed last month.

Abe’s three-pronged strategy of ending deflation and stoking growth has helped household’s net worth, by propelling gains in the country’s stock market. Household assets climbed even as salaries have dropped, rising 4.7 percent to 1,207 trillion yen in the first three months of this year, the highest since 2007, before the global financial crisis.

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