Japan's Base Wages Edge Higher Amid Calls for Bigger Gains

  • Union's have softened demands for salary bumps in spring talks
  • The central bank and Abe administration want to see increases

Base wages for Japanese workers crept up 0.1 percent in October from a year ago, the eighth straight increase amid calls from the government and the central bank for solid pay gains to spur economic growth.

Overall monthly earnings -- which includes bonuses and overtime payments -- rose 0.7 percent, slightly higher than an estimated 0.5 percent gain in a Bloomberg survey of economists, data from the labor ministry showed on Friday. Real cash earnings, which are adjusted for inflation, gained 0.4 percent.

The data come as unions mull their proposals for spring wage talks in Japan. A labor group whose members include Toyota Motor Corp., Hitachi Ltd. and Panasonic Corp.’s unions have said the minimum wage increase they seek for 2016 will be only half of what they sought a year ago.

Wage increases have a key part to play in Japan’s efforts to boost spending and inflation after years of stagnation. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda emphasized the need for higher wages to spur an economic revitalization in November after the BOJ kept its already unprecedented stimulus program unchanged.

While monthly base wages are rising, bonus payments have been disappointing for many workers. Following a drop in summer payouts, full-time permanent employees can expect a decline of about 1 percent to 2.1 percent in their winter bonuses, according to economists.

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